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Haslam tops first test of the year

Leon Haslam edges Jonathan Rea as he continues to chip away at his odds for the 2010 World Superbike season
Leon Haslam had the honour of topping the first World Superbike timesheets of 2010 as official testing got underway in Portugal, Alstare Suzuki's star signing edging out countryman Jonathan Rea.

Having already raised eyebrows with his immediate pace on the GSX-R1000 during post-season outings at Portimao and Valencia, Haslam was straight on form again around the Algarve circuit to lap just six tenths off Ben Spies' record.

As anticipated, the front runners were relatively evenly matched at this early stage in the proceedings, with one second covering Haslam down to James Toseland in seventh position.

Haslam's lap of 1min 43.023secs would prove to be just over a tenth faster than Jonathan Rea on the Ten Kate Honda, although the Northern Irishman didn't aid his cause in the latter stages when he crashed and hurt his right little finger.

The pair held off the man many are tipping for this year's title, Max Biaggi, although the Aprilia man was another to experience a tumble during the session.

In fact, it was five different manufacturers inside the top five as Cal Crutchlow flew the flag for both Yamaha and the rookies in a promising fourth position, just half a second off Haslam, while Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio were in tandem for Ducati Xerox in fifth and sixth.

Toseland kept a watching brief in seventh as he led a trio of British riders, with Leon Camier and Shane Byrne ensuring six of the seven-strong contingent would breach the top ten at the first time of asking. Sylvain Guintoli rounded out the top ten on the second Suzuki.

Elsewhere, the two remaining manufacturers, BMW and Kawasaki, made modest starts to their weekend, with Troy Corser leading the German manufacturer's effort in 11th positon, while Tom Sykes was 14th quickest as he got the better of new team-mate Chris Vermeulen.

Elsewhere, Byrne's team-mate Carlos Checa was 12th fastest on the second Althea Ducati, while Max Neukirchner was down in 15th position as he continues to get acquainted with his Ten Kate Honda.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Sylvain Guintoli and Leon Haslam, Team Alstare Suzuki, Bike Show 2009 [pic credit: Ian Hopgood Photography]
Haslam, Valencia WSBK tests, December 2009
Haslam, Valencia WSBK tests, December 2009
Haslam, Valencia WSBK tests, December 2009
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