11 April 2010
Haslam storms to Valencia win
The Briton capitalises on an error by early leader Carlos Checa to cruise another victory for Suzuki
Leon Haslam has extended his lead in the World Superbike standings after coming out on top in a pulsating first race of the weekend in Valencia.
The Suzuki Alstare rider, who has now finished inside the top two in all five races this season so far, moved to the front on lap five to manage the early pace before forging ahead mid-race.
Eventually winning by almost two seconds, Biaggi followed in second position having lost his chance of challenging for victory by getting bottled up behind James Toseland until the latter stages, the Briton's spirited effort eventually being rewarded with a podium finish in third.
Starting from fourth on the grid, Haslam held onto his position through the opening few turns, slotting in behind Troy Corser, getting a superb start to lead from fifth on the grid, Carlos Checa and Biaggi. Pole sitter Crutchlow, by contrast, would find himself seventh by the end of lap one.
A hot tip for victory prior to the start of the weekend, Checa, who had run a consistently fast race pace during free practice, wasted no time in making his move, passing Corser before the end of the opening lap and then again at the start of lap two after the Australian had nosed ahead down the straight.
It was a position the Spaniard would capitalise on, the Phillip Island race winner eking out his advantage into lap three, ahead of Corser and Haslam, who in turn had crucially pushed his way past Biaggi.
However, Checa's hopes of a fairytale win on home turf would soon be scuppered when he lost the front-end of his Althea Ducati into turn eight, the experienced racer doing wonders to keep the bike pointing in the right direction as he balanced its weight on his left knee. However, while he avoided falling down, he was unable to recover in time to lean into the next right-hander, Checa having no choice but to run off the circuit instead.
His demise left Corser back in front, the former champion enjoying his stint on the much-improved BMW to hold station for the next two laps until Haslam dipped beneath him under braking for turn one.
From here, Haslam proceeded to dictate the pace, allowing the lead group to expand to ten riders, with Corser, Biaggi, Toseland and Camier – the latter pair up at the front after aggressive first laps – all keeping a particularly close watching brief from second to fifth.
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