Leon Haslam's outstanding start to the 2009 World Superbike Championship continued unabated at Assen after scoring two podiums, including a career-best second place finish.
Already celebrating a first front row starting position for the Stiggy Honda team in third, Haslam didn't get the best of starts in the first race to run fifth initially before dispatching of Jakub Smrz and negotiating the stricken Max Neukirchner to move into third.
However, far from allowing the two race favourites, Ben Spies and Noriyuki Haga, to romp away in their bid for victory, Haslam played his part in the outcome, setting a new race lap record to catch the pair and challenge for the lead.
Following Haga past Spies on lap 13, Haslam went on to hound the Ducati rider for several laps before an invigorated Spies managed to work his way back past three laps from the finish. Caught off guard and with no time to launch a counter-attack, Haslam was forced to watch as Spies snatched victory from Haga on the final lap.
Even so, while he admits he was frustrated that he couldn't sustain his pace to the chequered flag, he was delighted to be challenging for victory with the two runaway title protagonists.
"I am absolutely over the moon,” he said. “This certainly was my best race ever on one of my favourite tracks. To be on the podium twice in one weekend is just awesome. I was a little frustrated after the first race, as I wasn't there in the last two laps with Nori and Ben to battle for the win.”
Although the first race will arguably go down as Haslam's finest moment, it is his second place finish in the following race that marks his best-ever result at this level.
Capitalising on Spies' early accident, Haslam had hoped to challenge Haga for the win again, but was forced to fight his way past Michel Fabrizio first. Losing several seconds before planting his move on lap 13, Haslam was nonetheless thrilled to come away with two podiums for the burgeoning Stiggy team.
“With Spies crashing out in the second race I thought I had a great opportunity to battle with Nori, but it just took me too long to pass Fabrizio. By the time I got passed him I managed to break him by a second , but Nori was already gone and had a nice lead. I managed to gain a little bit on him towards the end, but it wasn't enough to catch him.�
“I want to give big thanks to my team and sponsors, and am looking forward to the next race in Monza.”
Haslam's results move him up to third position in the overall WSBK standings, 26 points behind second place Spies.