Leon Haslam has taken hold of the MCE British Superbike championship lead after the opening Showdown round with a win and a second place as he kept his thoughts solely on a maiden title.

The JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider grabbed a lucky victory in the wet race one when running in second place he saw leader Dan Linfoot’s Honda engine blow up which forced a red flag finish. With Linfoot looking for redemption in race two, Haslam says he had to concede the win to the Honda rider with the championship picture at stake.

Despite entering the Showdown six points behind defending champion Shane Byrne, Haslam finishes round one of the finale with a 22-point advantage over Josh Brookes who has moved up to second place.

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“Race one was difficult as I got off to a good start but then pretty much everyone came past me,” Haslam said. “After that I felt like I got into quite a good rhythm and I managed to catch up with Shakey and Josh. At that point, I was hoping for third or fourth place but then I caught up with Dan and John and in the end I was gifted the win so it was an unexpected but really important victory for us.

“In race two I had to keep telling myself 'championship, championship' when Brad Ray was nipping at my heels for the last few laps! Even though the conditions weren’t great in race one or race two because of the wet patches, I felt like I rode really well.

“Big thanks to everyone at JG Speedfit Kawasaki - we did what we needed to do and, although it was frustrating not to win the second race after coming so close, at least we can move on to the next round with smiles on our faces.

“I’m looking forward to Assen as it can be very weather dependent and its cold this time of year but we managed a double win there last year so we know that the potential of the bike is good. However, there are so many people in the Showdown challenging for a place on the podium that anything can happen but that’s what makes it so exciting this year!”