With two races remaining this weekend, Leon Haslam and the JG Speedfit Kawasakiteam are jubilant after the Pocket Rocket rode to an early victory today (Saturday 13thOctober) during the Brands Hatch final of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship.
Leon clinched the title, a day before the end of the season, after finishing in sixth place. It is the first British Superbike crown for the Derbyshire ace, the first for the team and the first for the official Kawasaki team since 1992, thus making it a superb day for all concerned.
After posting the fifth fastest time overall across the three free practice sessions, Leon took a cautious eighth place in Saturday’s qualifying session with the first 20-lap race of the weekend taking place later in the afternoon and he completed the first lap around the 2.43-mile Grand Prix circuit in an equally steady seventh place.
With season long rival Jake Dixon running in second place, the 35-year old had a difficult race to negotiate. Victory for Dixon would have required Leon to have moved up to third to seal the championship.
However, Dixon never climbed higher than second and with Leon taking sixth place on lap five it meant his lead would only be reduced by ten points, from 61 to 51, with 50 still available on Sunday.
The top six were never covered by more than two seconds with Leon sticking to the tail of BMW rider Peter Hickman and although Dixon made a late bid for victory, he ultimately ran out time and had to settle for second. Indeed, at the end of the twenty laps, sixth place for Leon meant he finally secured the British Superbike Championship after finishing second overall on three prior occasions.
Leon Haslam said:“That was the longest race ever! I wanted the boys to push on but when I caught Hicky, I could see that Jake wasn’t leading so settled into sixth place as I knew I could clinch the title in that position.
“It was a long 20 laps and it’s been a while coming but it’s been a fantastic year and the team have been faultless. It’s not my style to finish in sixth place but I did what I needed to do to get the job done and 14 wins shows what a year we’ve had.
“It’s a huge weight off my shoulders and I’m delighted, so a big thanks to everyone.”
Pete Extance, Team Owner, said:“It’s been an incredible day, not just for the team but for Kawasaki UK as well, winning their first official title since John Reynolds in 1992, and I’m so pleased for the Haslam family and they fully deserve the title.
“We’re happy to be the people and team to give them the Championship and there’s so many people to thank especially JG Speedfit, Quattro Plant and Cool Milk. It’s hard to find the words at the moment but we’ll enjoy tonight, let it all sink in and then come back for the final two races tomorrow.”