10 August 2008
Knockhill: Haslam wins as Byrne tumbles.
Leon Haslam has taken his first win of the 2008 Bennetts British Superbike season after being crowned the winner of a twice interrupted and eventually truncated second race at Knockhill.
A race of many twists and turns that would end after just 14 laps when Shane Byrne suffered a heavy crash whilst defending his lead, the inclement weather and a horrific crash for David Johnson and Tom Grant also played their part in a race that would last only 12 minutes.
The race was scheduled to start at 3.30pm but a heavy rain shower prompted organisers to red flag the start and allow the riders to fit wet tyres to their bikes.
Now correctly booted as they made their way back to the grid, from the off Haslam and Michael Rutter got away best, the Honda rider leading his Ducati rival into the first corner, closely followed by Byrne, Cal Crutchlow and Tom Sykes, the race one winner unable to get quite the jump as he did in the first event.
Eager to make up for his disappointment in the first race, Haslam wasted no time in establishing an advantage over Rutter, who in turn was feeling pressure from Byrne. Eventually the Airwaves Ducati rider moved past on lap four and while Rutter retaliated by re-passing almost straight away, the championship leader was soon back past in second.
Now setting about trying to track down Haslam, Byrne wouldn't get the chance after the race was red flagged following a spectacular crash back in the midfield on lap nine.
Replays appeared to show Johnson's rider-less Maxxis Honda ploughing into the side of Tom Grant's similar SMT machine. Although it isn't clear just what caused Johnson to come off his bike heading into the first corner, the impact was enough to warrant medical attention for both himself and a very stunned Grant. Kenny Gilbertson was also caught up in the accident, the Kawasaki rider falling off in avoidance.
With the race stopped to allow for marshals to clear the circuit and for Johnson and Grant to be attended to, the timing would otherwise turn out to be almost perfect. Indeed, the return of the sun had dried out much of the circuit, the stoppage therefore allowing riders to change to more appropriate rubber.
Reduced to a 20 lap sprint, the race was restarted in the order of where the riders were when the race was stopped. That meant Haslam held the top spot, with Byrne second, Rutter third, Crutchlow fourth and Sykes fifth. Crutchlow, however, would be unable to take up his starting position after diving into the pit lane at the end of the warm-up lap to jump on his slick-shod bike having decided the circuit was destined to dry out quickly. By contrast, the leading riders were settling for a combination of slick and intermediate tyres.
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