Haslam bounces back to take fourth.

Stiggy Racing's Leon Haslam bounced back from an unfortunate race one crash to mount a charge for the podium in the second and final World Superbike outing of the weekend at Kyalami.

Disappointed by his Superpole performance after having placed himself firmly in the top five on the timesheets throughout practice and qualifying, Haslam was further frustrated by a poor getaway in race one at the South African track, which left him battling to hold on to a place in the top ten for much of the race. When he did begin to make progress, however, it was short-lived as he tumbled out of the action on lap 15.

Despite that misfortune, however, he and the Stiggy team remained convinced that the Honda's race potential was there, and Haslam's competitive showing in race two confirmed the belief, even though he had to switch to his second bike. Quickly into seventh place from tenth on the grid, the Briton soon made a pass on Carlos Checa, before moving up another place when Ben Spies was forced into an early retirement.

That took him onto the tail of Max Biaggi and, although the Italian tried to close the door, he struggled to keep the Stiggy Honda at bay, with Haslam eventually flying into fourth early in the second half of the race. Unfortunately, further progress towards the front of the field - and a place on the rostrum - was denied by fellow Honda rider Johnny Rea, who defended stoutly until Haslam suffered a worn rear tyre that blunted his charge.

"I was a lot happier now that I could battle with the front group but, for whatever reason, there was nothing left in my rear tyre," Haslam reported after deciding to back off and consolidate his fourth position, "It felt like a piece of jelly towards the end of the race, and I couldn't fight with Johnny for third.

"It was a bit of a gamble to go out on my second bike after crashing my number one machine in the first race - which was really strange in itself. I don't know whether it was a dodgy front tyre but, from the first lap in the first race, I kept losing the front, resulting in the crash.

"The second bike has a totally different gearbox and suspension set-up to the other bike, but it worked straight away. I'm just glad I managed to hold on till the end on that tyre..."

Haslam's 13-point haul confirms him in fourth place overall after six rounds this season, still the best of the Honda riders with 116 points.

"Leon's performance was unbelievable today," team manager Johan Stigefelt enthused, "He suffered a big crash in the first race, and completely destroyed his bike, but managed to come back in the second race while out on his second bike.

"He had not been riding that bike all weekend, so then to get a result like this is just amazing. It goes to show what a class rider and fighter he is."

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Nicky Hayden, Stefan Bradl, Red Bull Honda [Credit: Honda WSBK]
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