Haslam holds 22-point advantage but Brookes and Byrne ready to attack at Assen
Leon Haslam holds the advantage in the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship standings ahead of the crucial penultimate round of the season at Assen this weekend, however the JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider knows he will come under attack from rivals including Josh Brookes and Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne.
Leon Haslam – JG Speedfit Kawasaki – Championship Position 1st
“I am looking forward to Assen this weekend; it was a great round for us last year with a double win and I am feeling really confident. It is a completely different scenario though because conditions can be different or other riders can get involved. We know that Shakey and Josh will want to bounce back and push harder this weekend. I was confident of winning at Oulton Park, but I wasn’t expecting some of the other guys to have such a bad weekend by their standards. I am anticipating more wins this weekend and I want to have more of the same from Assen as we had last year so we are in the best possible position at Brands Hatch.”
Haslam holds a 22 point lead ahead of the two races on Sunday and arrives at the Dutch circuit feeling confident after celebrating a double race win there last season. However in the yellow corner, Josh Brookes is gunning for a repeat of 2015 when the Australian scored a double victory on his way to lifting the title.
Brookes lies just a single point ahead of defending champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne who returns to the circuit determined to make amends as the Be Wiser Ducati rider was left frustrated to miss out on the podium last time out.
Josh Brookes – Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha – Championship Position 2nd
“Assen is a great circuit and it is always a round of the season that we all get excited to get to. Every round I try my hardest because that is what you need to do and treat it as if it is our last and it is crunch time now. We have to try and dig deeper and find that little bit extra, because it is crucial to do everything we can. My focus and aim is to do more than we can, ride harder than we have before. 22 points is a bit difference so we need to have two good races because you can’t guarantee anything. The team have done a great job to get us to where we are now and we have done more than some people expected already this year, and now I want to do more than that again. To exceed any expectations and I want to win this title.”
Anvil Hire Yamaha Team Manager Gary Winfield
“We’re very much looking forward to this weekend, not only because the Championship lead is within our grasps, we also head to one of the best rounds on the calendar. Assen is a great track, the historic nature makes it a special event for us all, and we look forward to it each year. 22 points is the gap from Josh to Leon, 22 points separate us from the Championship lead, it’s just one race win worth of points, so it’s well within our grasps. Josh is fully focussed, so are the team, we’ve come this far and we’re going to give it our all to reel in Leon at the top. This weekend will be a challenge, but as always we won’t let the situation get the better of us, we want to walk away and head to final round within touching distance of the Championship lead, if not with it, so bring it on.”
Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne – Be Wiser Ducati – Championship Position 3rd
“It is fairly obvious that Oulton Park was a complete, utter disaster and definitely not how we wanted to kick off the Showdown. That said we are ready to come back at Assen this weekend that’s for sure. I know all too well how this championship can turn around; there was a season when I went to Assen with a 27 point lead and left with only two points so anything can happen. Plus there are also a load of guys in the mix fighting at the front that can all get between us, so hopefully I can be ahead with a few in between taking points off some of the other guys! We need to win and turn it around now; I didn’t want to go back to third in the standings and I am going to be giving it everything to get back to where we want to be and that is first. I am all revved up and ready to go. I can’t wait for Assen.”
Young gun Jake Dixon delivered an incredible performance to fight his way through the pack after starting from pitlane due to a warm up crash to finish fourth and close to within seven points of the reigning champion.
Peter Hickman is a further 11 points adrift for the Smiths Racing BMW team with Jason O’Halloran and Honda Racing completing the top six, however with a maximum 125 points still available before the title decider at Brands Hatch the tables got turn again this weekend.
Jason O’Halloran – Championship Position 5th
“I always get excited in the run up to Assen; it’s a circuit I haven’t raced a lot at, but it’s one I really enjoy. I love its fast and flowing nature and because of this you get exciting, close racing. There’s always great support from the UK fans and also the Dutch fans, so there’s always a good atmosphere across the weekend. Last year we had a good round and produced a podium, so this weekend we will hit it as we normally do and I really hope we can realise our full potential this weekend. We’ve been so close recently so now we need to put all the pieces of the puzzle together and achieve strong results.”
The Showdown Six though have recently come under fire from the Showdown Spoilers with Dan Linfoot scoring victory at Oulton Park last time out and Bradley Ray also scoring his debut podium in his rookie campaign. Already this season there have been nine different race winners and a further six podium finishers representing a total of ten teams and six manufacturers.
Christian Iddon leads the battle for the Riders Cup in seventh place for Tyco BMW, just three points ahead of Luke Mossey on the second of the JG Speedfit Kawasakis with James Ellison, Linfoot, Glenn Irwin and John Hopkins all ready to come out fighting for a podium return.
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship standings after Oulton Park
- Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) 571
- Josh Brookes (Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha) 549
- Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) 548
- Jake Dixon (RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki) 541
- Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) 530
- Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) 517