Silverstone: Haslam returns with impressive pole position

Leon Haslam has marked his return to the MCE British Superbike championship by taking pole position for the season opener at Silverstone.
Click here for full BSB qualifying results from Silverstone

Leon Haslam has marked his return to the MCE British Superbike championship by taking pole position for the season opener at Silverstone after fending off Jason O'Halloran in the wet Superpole qualifying.

After the highly-anticipated new Superpole shootout qualifying had to be revised due to the threat of rain, the more familiar Q3 session returned in which Haslam charged to the front with his opening flyer of 2m 05.501s.

Honda Racing's O'Halloran, making his own competitive return to BSB after suffering a broken leg midway through last season, closed the gap to the JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider but narrowly missed out in second, with fastest man from free practice Christian Iddon placing his Tyco BMW third on the front row for tomorrow's curtain raiser race.

Four-time BSB champion Shane Byrne put his new Be Wiser Ducati fourth on the grid and will be joined on row two by last year's BSB Riders' Cup winner Luke Mossey and Michael Laverty.

ePayMe Yamaha's John Hopkins was pushed down to seventh as the chequered flag fell while BSB rookie James Rispoli hugely impressed with eighth place after Dan Linfoot was unable to contest Q3 due to a technical issue.

At the start of qualifying the Superpole shootout was declared wet due to the rain threatening the Northamptonshire circuit, but for Q1 all riders set quick times on slick tyres on a dry track.

In the opening session JG Speedfit Kawasaki's Ellison, who topped the damp FP3, tumbled out after finding a slippery patch to suffer a small fall at Farm which prevented him from producing a quick lap and will start the season opener last.

In typical unpredictable April weather at the start of the intermediate session the sun bathed one section of the circuit while in another drops of rain were detected by the marshals.

Despite the conditions the times continued to improve with Mossey setting the fastest lap of the weekend while the top 14 riders were within one second on the timesheet as Kiyonari narrowly missed the cut in tenth.

Heading into Q3 due to the new rules any likelihood of rain prevented the maiden run of the new Superpole shootout and was revised to a 12 minute session between the top nine. For Honda Racing's Linfoot it was heartbreak before the session had begun as he was unable to battle for pole due to a technical issue.

In the first round of flyers Haslam stormed to provisional pole with a two-tenth advantage on the chasing pack headed by O'Halloran and narrowly held on to take an impressive pole on his return to the national series.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Leon Haslam, JG Speedfit Kawasaki, [Credit:]
Leon Haslam, JG Speedfit Kawasaki, [Credit: Bonnie Lane]
Jason O`Halloran, Honda Racing [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Josh Brookes, Anvil Hire Yamaha, [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Shane Byrne, Be Wiser Ducati, [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Luke Mossey, JG Speedfit Kawasaki, [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Peter Hickman, Smiths BMW [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Tommy Bridewell, Team WD-40 Kawasaki [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Bradley Ray, Buildbase Suzuki [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Sylvain Guintoli, Bennetts Suzuki [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
James Ellison, McAMS Yamaha [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Dan Linfoot, Honda Racing [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Alastair Seeley, Tyco BMW [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Lee Jackson, Smiths Racing BMW [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Haslam, Byrne, Mossey, [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Shane Byrne, Be Wiser Ducati, [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Leon Haslam, JG Speedfit Kawasaki [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Leon Haslam, JG Speedfit Kawasaki [Credit: Ian Hopgood]

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