Leon Haslam admits he wasn't aware he was leading the first race at Assen by such a comprehensive margin prior to crashing just six laps from what looked destined to be BMW's maiden World Superbike victory.
Starting from seventh position on the grid, Haslam was involved in the thick of the action throughout the first race, tussling with Tom Sykes and BMW team-mate Marco Melandri for the lead during the dry first half before slipping to fourth when the red flag was deployed because of rain.
Beginning from the front row for the nine lap sprint in sodden conditions, Haslam quickly pushed to the front and began lapping three seconds faster than the opposition, his quest for victory becoming simpler when closest rival Jonathan Rea crashed out behind him.
However, Haslam would promptly followed suit when he dropped the S1000RR on lap three having established a huge nine second lead over the more tentative chasing pack.
Making the bitter realisation after the returning to the garage, the British rider was not aware he commanded such an advantage and was gutted to see a maiden BMW win slip through his grasp.
“Race one was dry at the start. I made a small mistake when I was battling with Carlos Checa
mid-race and dropped back to sixth, but I came back in the lead. I had a bit of a tyre issue in that race but it was red flagged anyway due to the rain so for me the red flag was not a bad thing, even though my pace was good enough to get to regain the lead from the back. At the re-start it was raining. I passed Johnny Rea quite easily.
“It was feeling pretty smooth and easy – and then I had a big crash. I did not realize that I was pushing so much. In hindsight I could have maybe slowed off, but even so I did not feel that I was pushing too hard. After race one I was very disappointed because I could have lost a second per lap and still won the race. The positive thing is that we feel pretty confident in the rain.”
Forced into taking the risk of an intermediate front tyre for the changing track conditions of race two after a decision to alter it came too late, Haslam ran as high as second before inevitably slipping into the clutches of his slick-shod rivals. Nonetheless, Haslam gallantly battled on to finish less than a tenth from the podium in fifth.
“In race two, we opted for an intermediate front and a slick rear tyre. Three minutes before the start I knew that we needed a slick front, but they wouldn't let us change the tyre because we were running out of time. After two or three laps, the front tyre was just pushing and bouncing and I didn't have any corner speed.
“I was surprised that riders didn't pass me sooner. Somehow I managed to hold Eugene and Marco's pace, even with the intermediate tyre. I thought I got Marco over the line; it was really, really close. In hindsight I'm happy because we nearly got on the podium with an intermediate front tyre.”