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Haslam hints at BMW ascension with new landmark
2 April 2012
Following Marco Melandri's run to second position during the World Superbike Championship season opener at Phillip Island, it was the turn of Leon Haslam to notch up another landmark for BMW at Imola as he sealed the manufacturer's first-ever double podium.
The British rider, who impressed with his results in Australia just days after undergoing surgery on his broken leg, came to Imola looking to capitalise on his improved condition and duly showed well in free practice before qualifying fourth on the grid.
Though average starts in both races, as well as a tangle with Sylvain Guintoli during the opening encounter, ultimately cost him the chance to get on terms with the leaders, Haslam proved particularly strong in the latter stages of the race, showing a consistency that has often been missing from the BMW S1000RR's package.
Enjoying the satisfaction of beating 2010 title-rival Max Biaggi to third place in each race, the result marks the first time BMW has claimed a pair of podiums over a WSBK race weekend.
“It has been a good weekend,” he said. “We had a good first race and managed to get a podium position which was my first in Imola. I made a mistake in the beginning and third was the best result we could get. In 2010, Max beat me in the world championship here in Imola, so it was nice to win that fight for the podium.
“In race two I got a better start, but the top three got away again. I managed to catch up and I really did feel that I could beat Tom [Sykes], but in the end I made a few mistakes again. Every time I pushed, I got a little bit of chatter and lost my line.”
Arguably Haslam best weekend since joining BMW at the start of the 2011 season, the British rider is pleased with the performance of his bike, but insists there is still much to improve upon.
“Overall, we are making progress and it is quite clear in which areas we still need to improve, but I am really happy with the first double podium for BMW,” he added. “We definitely made some good steps and a big, big thanks to all the guys at BMW. We will certainly be celebrating tonight, but not too much, as we are testing tomorrow. My ankle was a bit sore after the second race, but for Assen I should be 100 per cent fit again.”
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