Leon Haslam declared himself ‘over the moon’ after scoring his first World Superbike podium in two years at a soaking wet Magny-Cours.
|The eyes say it all
Photo: Pata Honda
It is widely rumoured that the Englishman will be leaving the Pata Honda team at the end of the season after a character-building two years but he caught and passed reigning world champion Tom Sykes at the close of race two for a memorable podium finish.
“It’s been a tough two seasons, with a leg break last year and a few other problems I’ve been having, so a big thanks to the team, to Pata and to Honda who’ve stood by me. I’ve managed to repay them with a podium so I’m over the moon. We had our share of issues over the weekend, first in Superpole and in the second part of race one when I lost all straight line grip.”
Haslam finished the first race in a lonely sixth place, some 29 seconds behind the race winner. Changes in race two coupled with some demonic wet-weather riding saw Haslam catch and pass Sykes for his first top-three finish in Pata colours.
“The boys made some changes for race two and it was definitely a step forward, although I still suffered a bit in the same area. It was also quite difficult starting from the fourth row of the grid because I couldn’t really see anything for the first few laps. By the time I got past a few guys the leaders had already gone.
But I was really happy to beat Tom in the end – it was one thing getting to him but quite another getting by. I passed him the first time on the brakes but started wheel-spinning and lost all my drive. I felt that I had a lot better pace than him but he was being really defensive. I lost both wheels trying to go outside him at turn three and then tried again at the hairpin and ran wide. I was running out of laps though so to get by him and then open a gap made me quite happy. We can go to Doha in a month’s time a little happier now.”
Haslam’s fruitful day saw him leapfrog three riders – Toni Elias, Eugene Laverty and Davide Giugliano – in the world championship standings. He now sits seventh overall on 176 points, 19 back of Chaz Davies in sixth.