While it wasn't the World Superbike title he targeted at the start of the season, Leon Haslam brought his breakthrough 2010 campaign to a satisfying conclusion at Magny-Cours with a hard fought 14th podium.
It has been a fraught week for the 27-year-old having lost out on the title at Imola before confirming he will leave Suzuki in favour of a switch to BMW in 2011, but he gave the Alstare team one last cheer with a superb run to second in race one.
Battling his way back up the order from a row three start, Haslam found himself behind former title rival Max Biaggi
as they entered the final lap around the French circuit. Determined to get one last edge over the Italian this season, Haslam muscled his way through with an impressive last corner pass.
A high-point of what has been a generally outstanding season for Haslam, who emerged as something of a surprise title contender when he won on his Suzuki debut in Australia, he was thrilled with the performance.
“The first race was the kind of race I love,” he beamed. “Full of fighting and everything on the line. I am so happy to get second and so happy to have beaten Max. On the last lap, Max defended his line going into the final two turns, but I was determined to get the better of him and dived underneath him! That surprised him and he wasn't able to recover in time. It was a pretty hard move, but racing's a hard game and sometimes you just have to be tough.
“I was particularly happy to get on the podium because I didn't get a very good start. I had just worked away and gradually got back into contention. Throughout the whole race I had to make some pretty odd moves, but that's what I had to do to get into the situation of challenging for the podium. The championship might have been over, but I always want to win races and that's what I set about doing.”
Haslam's final race for Suzuki didn't go to plan, however, as he was forced off track in avoidance of the 'desperate' James Toseland, the Briton only able to fight back to tenth. While it the way he wanted to conclude his relationship with Alstare, he thanked them for their efforts in 2010.
“Although I was on row three of the grid, I knew that a podium was also a possibility in race two. That is until, JT's highside right in front of me! All weekend, he's been riding a bit desperate.
“The third row of the grid is one thing, but finding yourself in 16th, with the pack long gone is another matter because I had lost so much time going on the grass after avoiding JT. Tenth is not how I wanted to season to end, but that's racing.
“It's been a great year. I only had a couple of DNFs - one my fault and one not - and I've scored 14 podiums. I'm very happy with the season and would like to thank everybody at Alstare Suzuki for all their hard work and support. They made this all possible - the best season I've ever had!”