Sylvain Guintoli and Leon Haslam share Assen wins
Josh Brookes scores 5-2 results
Leon Haslam holds 32-point lead over Brookes
75-points up for grabs at Brands Hatch decider
Sylvain Guintoli celebrated his first victory of the season in the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship in a race two thriller at Assen as Bennetts Suzuki team claimed their first victory as Josh Brookes and Leon Haslam returned to the podium ahead of the Brands Hatch title decider.
Haslam claimed the first MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship victory in Assen after an epic clash at the legendary Dutch circuit with a six-way scrap for supremacy with Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne scything his way through the order.
On the opening lap James Ellison lead from Haslam, Christian Iddon and Dan Linfoot, but Guintoli was soon in the mix as he moved into third on the Bennetts Suzuki at the end of the third lap.
Byrne had started 16th on the grid, but he was forcing his way through the pack and by the sixth lap was up to fifth as the leading pack of Ellison, Haslam, Guintoli and Byrne started to trade blows at the front of the field.
Guintoli hit the lead on the tenth lap as he dived ahead of Ellison with Haslam and Byrne in close contention, but the McAMS Yamaha rider wasn’t second for long as he repaid the move to reclaim the position at the front of the field.
Byrne had moved up to third as Guintoli moved back ahead of Ellison, but Haslam was determined and he moved into second before taking the lead on lap 14 to put the JG Speedfit Kawasaki back ahead. As Haslam took the lead the pack shuffled with Ellison up to second ahead of Guintoli with Byrne in fourth as Josh Brookes and Bradley Ray closed in.
Haslam was edging an advantage but the fight wasn’t over until the line as Byrne made a decisive last lap move to put himself ahead of Ellison, but in turn the McAMS Yamaha rider had come under attack from Guintoli.
As Byrne held second, Ellison went for a last corner move on Guintoli to hold onto the final podium spot with the Bennetts Suzuki rider relegated to fourth ahead of Brookes and Ray.
Peter Hickman held off Showdown rival Jake Dixon for seventh place with John Hopkins and Jason O’Halloran completing the top ten ahead of Linfoot, Mossey and Richard Cooper after Christian Iddon crashed out unhurt.
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Assen, race one result
- Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki)
- Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) +1.992s
- James Ellison (McAMS Yamaha) +2.591s
- Sylvain Guintoli (Bennetts Suzuki) +2.655s
- Josh Brookes (Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha) +2.717s
- Bradley Ray (Buildbase Suzuki) +2.814s
- Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) +7.865s
- Jake Dixon (RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki) +8.210s
- John Hopkins (Moto Rapido Ducati) +11.000s
- Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) +15.666s
On the opening lap of a race two thriller Byrne had hit the front of the pack from Haslam and Ellison with Guintoli, Brookes and Iddon in close contention. However instantly the riders were jostling for positions and by the third lap the Bennetts Suzuki of Guintoli was at the front and ahead of Haslam.
Haslam instantly fought back though to try and recapture the lead but as the pack streamed across the line for the fourth time Byrne led Ellison with Haslam and Guintoli next up with Brookes ready to make his attack.
By lap seven Ellison had edged into the lead on the McAMS Yamaha at the final chicane, but Byrne was pushing hard and two laps later he regained the position with Guintoli holding third ahead of Haslam and Brookes.
The five riders were trading blows for the positions and Haslam then moved ahead of Ellison to claim third as Guintoli then took the lead. On lap 16 the leading pack were all side by side as they entered turn one; Byrne and Haslam came off worst as they drifted wide and allowed Guintoli, Ellison and Brookes to emerge ahead.
Guintoli then held the advantage but Ellison was under attack and Haslam made a move on the penultimate lap to move second, but Brookes wasn’t done yet. The Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha rider waited until the final lap to make a pass; the Australian lunging ahead into second place to maintain second place in the overall standings.
Ellison held off Byrne who finished fifth for the Be Wiser Ducati team with Hickman edging ahead of Dixon to claim sixth place ahead of Iddon, Linfoot and Ray.
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Assen, race two result
- Sylvain Guintoli (Bennetts Suzuki)
- Josh Brookes (Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha) +0.589s
- Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +0.873s
- James Ellison (McAMS Yamaha) +1.315s
- Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) +1.410s
- Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) +7.605s
- Jake Dixon (RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki) +9.221s
- Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) +9.450s
- Dan Linfoot (Honda Racing) +9.502s
- Bradley Ray (Buildbase Suzuki) +15.012s
Sylvain Guintoli 4/1 – Bennetts Suzuki
“It means a lot, this first victory. I felt good right away this weekend. We’ve improved the bike a lot in recent rounds, also in the wet, too, which is somewhere we’ve struggled before. But in the dry, we’ve really improved. I enjoyed them a lot; there was lots of fighting and people diving underneath each other, I’d never seen some of the types of passing we saw today. But it was all safe and a lot of fun. We were unlucky to miss the podium in race one but in race two I felt really strong. We knew we had to develop the bike this year, but sometimes people want things right away. But it wasn’t going to happen in a championship this competitive, but we’re making steps and this shows that the bike is improving.”
Josh Brookes 5/2 – Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha
“It was hard fought, certainly earlier in the race I felt I was giving everything I and the bike had and it didn’t seem to be enough to move forward. I was like a paying spectator, I had to watch the guys ahead in a battle but fortunately towards the end of the race the tyre was still working good, and the character of me and the bike seems to work stronger at the end than it does at the beginning, so I started to become more of a player at the end of the race.
“Everybody’s desire to win was causing extreme moves and passes that slowed the race up, and that meant it put me in the perfect position to make passes. It wasn’t a win today but it almost feels like it, every point for me is extremely valuable.
“I would have liked to have been more consistent in the showdown, but we’re not down and out, anything can happen yet so maybe these points are the most vital of the Championship yet.”
Leon Haslam 1/3 – JG Speedfit Kawasaki – Championship position 1st
“I have to keep reminding myself of the championship; it is always a battle you want to win in every race and you want to make moves you probably shouldn’t when you are trying to win a championship. It worked out well for the championship today; I was a bit disappointed after the last lap of race two, I was in a good rhythm at the end and I had a bit of an issue with the engine cutting out, but it has been a great weekend for JG Speedfit Kawasaki. This championship is so tough and we definitely had a hard part of the season but the Showdown is where it matters and we have three races now at Brands Hatch to try and do the same job.”
Shane Byrne 2/5 – Be Wiser Ducati
“We were able to take a lot of positives out of the first race and to come through from 16th on the grid to second was pleasing. The one person I’m focused on at the moment is Leon as he’s leading the championship so getting involved with riders not part of the Showdown made life difficult. I should have been really happy with second place but the reality was I still didn’t beat Leon. Starting race two from pole made my life easier although I knew it would still be tough but I gave myself the best possible chance by leading for the majority of the race. The pace dropped when James (Ellison) passed me and I tried to fight back but made a mistake and dropped back to fifth so all I can do is go to Brands Hatch and do my very best. If that gets us the championship, then great, if it doesn’t, no-one can say I didn’t try.”
Peter Hickman 7/6 – Smiths Racing BMW
“Considering how qualifying went on Saturday, I’ve had two good rides today, probably my best ever results at Assen, but it’s been a frustrating day as I knew I had the pace to run with the front group. Starting race one from so far back was a big ask but I made a great start to get up to tenth, aided by some big moves, but it took me too long to get back to the head of the group by which time the front pack had escaped. We made a few set-up changes for race two, which were a big help, and I felt I had the pace to go with the front guys but I got hit in turn three and I lost three places. I got back to the front of the group again and was running in sixth but, again, by that time, the front five had gone. I know I’ve got the pace to run at the front so it’s a little bit frustrating through no-one’s fault but we’re still in the hunt for second or third in the championship so we’ll see what we can do at the last three races.”
Jason O’Halloran 10/13 – Honda Racing
“Well we’re coming away from Assen with a tenth and 13th place in both races, which isn’t ideal for us. Unfortunately the crash on Friday in practice left us a little on the back foot in certain areas. During the races I was able to push on from the group I was in, but with the grip issues we experienced I wasn’t able to maintain the progress we made. All in all it has been a tough couple of races and a tough weekend from the crash onwards and it’s disappointing not to come away with more points. But we’ve got to keep our heads high, keeping working and improving, we have some work to do going into the final round and I hope we can have a good end to the season.”
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship standings
- Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) 612
- Josh Brookes (Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha) 580
- Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) 579
- Jake Dixon (RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki) 558
- Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) 549
- Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) 526