Leon Haslam will enter the second-half of the 2010 World Superbike Championship season in the role of title chaser for the first time after being forced to hand over the series lead to Max Biaggi at Miller Motorsports Park.
On the day he celebrated his 27th birthday, Haslam went into weekend looking to consolidate his solid 15 point advantage over Max Biaggi, but had already surrendered five points by finishing second behind the Italian in race one.
However, Haslam would fare even worse in race two as, whilst in the midst of recovering from a bad start that left him in tenth, he made his first notable racing error of the year by crashing out on lap eight.
A nasty high-side that required him to get stitches in his arm, it was a disastrous result for Haslam as he was forced to watch the 'lucky' Biaggi romp to a second win at the expense of Carlos Checa.
“Obviously I am very disappointed how the day ended,” said Haslam, who is now on the other end of a 15 point deficit. “Crashing out is bad enough, but losing the championship lead is another. I always knew that it was going to be very hard and the races proved that. I was fortunate to get second place in race one and unfortunate to crash in race two.
“Carlos should have won both races and I feel a bit sorry for him. He had led both, but then had to pull out. As a result, Max got lucky, but racing is like that sometimes.
“I didn't make particularly good starts today and maybe that caused some of the problems. In race one, I was right behind Jakub (Smrz) when his Ducati blew up. I and the front of my Suzuki got covered in oil and I tried to use a different line to him so that I wouldn't crash on his oil.
“I think I was stuck behind him for over a lap, but luckily he pulled off the track and I was able to get my head down and chase after the leaders. I moved through the field and got into third and happy with that until Carlos stopped and I was gifted second.
“I was tenth at the end of the first lap in race two and once again I had a lot of work to do to catch the leaders. I managed to get up to sixth after seven laps, but then the bike suddenly let go at one of the hairpins and I was highsided. I had a load of stitches put into my left arm, just above the elbow, but I will be OK for Misano.”