BSB review: Brands bends to Haslam’s will.
By Philip Wain
With Leon Haslam and Shane Byrne occupying the top two spots in the MCE British Superbike Championship after the first three rounds, you could be forgiven for thinking it’s been predictable thus far and very much going as expected. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth and if anything, it’s never been more unpredictable.
With a first and a third at Brands Hatch this weekend, Haslam has taken over the Championship after a disappointing round for Christian Iddon saw him drop from first to third. The JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider put in a brilliant ride in race one to pip his team-mate James Ellison on the run in to the line but the weekend wasn’t all plain sailing with a heavy crash on Saturday taking the wind out of his sails.
“After the crash on Saturday, I would take a win and a third place all day! The bike felt really good in both races – I actually felt comfier in the second outing but I just didn’t have the same grip so couldn’t go with the two front guys. I’ve never won at the Indy track before, coming here it was probably the circuit I was dreading the most so to walk away with two trophies and the series lead is brilliant and sets us up for the rest of the season.”
Byrne’s winter move to Ducati has seen him very much up and down as both he and his new crew get to grips with the Italian machine and the lack of launch control was clearly hindering him at Brands. Seeing him down in 15th at one stage in race one was certainly unfamiliar but an ominous sign was his second race win, a victory that had all the hallmarks of a champion.
“It’s great to get the first win of the season and I’m sure it’s the start of some really good times for us,” he said afterwards. “The bike’s proving hard to get off the line at the moment but in race two, I was able to get with the leading group and with two laps to go, I managed to get by Richard Cooper by running up the inside at Clearways where I was able to get the power down more effectively and held on for a victory. We have our first batch of upgrades coming in the next few weeks, so we’re in a good place for the next round. “
Just as Iddon has proved a breath of fresh air in the series, so too has Cooper and if anyone thought his win at Oulton at the beginning of the month was down to the weather, he proved at Brands he intends to be in the mix all year. Second and fourth has moved him up to fourth overall.
“The whole weekend’s been great and we’ve literally made hardly any changes to the bike since Oulton,” said Cooper. I’ve been fast all weekend and made the most of my front row start in race two although I nearly rammed James Ellison when his bike broke. Shakey’s last two laps were very impressive and he wasn’t going to let the win go but I intend to be running with these guys all year long.”
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