27 September 2010
Haslam's title hopes end with a bang
The Suzuki Alstare rider suffers only his second retirement of the season at a crucial moment as he drops out of the title race.
Leon Haslam's faint hopes of keeping the World Superbike title fight alive to the final round of the season at Magny-Cours ended in dramatic fashion at Imola as a spectacular engine failure put an official end to his challenge.
The Briton has struggled to match Biaggi during the second-half of the season having led the Italian during the first-half, but Haslam was nonetheless was confident of scoring enough points to at least take the title fight down to the wire in France.
However, Haslam's plans were dented by an error on the final lap of the first race when a bungled move on Carlos Checa for the lead instead saw him run off the circuit and down to an eventual fifth place.
Needing to finish ahead of Biaggi in race two, Haslam ran second early on but put himself on the back foot with an error on lap seven, one that dropped him to sixth.
A fight back ensued, but Haslam's efforts would prove futile as his Suzuki would suffer its first mechanical failure in a race this season. Watching his title dreams end with a bang, Haslam was disappointed to be out of contention one round early, but satisfied with his pace.
“It is frustrating that it has ended the way it has because I was hoping to take the fight to Magny-Cours, but that's racing,” Haslam conceded. “We always knew it was going to be hard ask because Max's lead in the points was so great, but while there was hope we kept fighting.
“I should've won the first race and I would've won it if I hadn't made a mistake on the last lap. I was chasing Carlos and confident that I could pass him and take the win. I had a bit of a lunge, but lost the front a bit and that was that. I managed not to crash, but lost some positions. I saw that Max had only finished 11th, so at least the fight would carry on and maybe I could get a podium and Max would have another low finish.
“I was chasing Tom (Sykes) in race two. He was fast on the straights, but holding me up in the turns, so I thought I'd have a go at him in the final chicane. I went for it, but got in a bit too hot and had to straighten up and go across the gravel. I rejoined the track and probably let too many people pass before getting back up to speed.
“I was using the same bike as race one and it had been OK at the end of the race, so there were no thoughts of changing it for race two. The set-up was the same, but the bike felt different and I knew something was up, but my first thought was that it was a tyre problem. When the engine went, I knew about it straightaway and pulled off the track as soon as I could.
“Obviously, I hadn't wanted the title fight to end this way, but I knew that this weekend was all about having to go for it - and that's what I did. I am a bit ticked off because this is only the second race weekend when I have not been on the podium. So, I better make up for it in Magny-Cours by winning both races!”
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