Haslam in con­trol

O It looks like it could fi­nally be Haslam’s year as he bat­tles to Assen dou­ble

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Contents - By Oli Rushby BSB RE­PORTER

Assen mis­sion ends in dou­ble for ti­tle leader

Leon Haslam put one hand on the Bennetts British Su­per­bike Cham­pi­onship tro­phy with a dou­ble win at Assen while ti­tle ri­val Jake Dixon suf­fered heart­break.

Haslam’s dou­ble and Dixon’s DNF (see left) leaves the JG Speed­fit Kawasaki star with a 61-point lead go­ing into Brands Hatch, with only 75 points avail­able from the three races. So while it’s math­e­mat­i­cally pos­si­ble for him to be beaten – he’s closer than ever to be­ing crowned 2018 BSB cham­pion.

The two Assen vic­to­ries didn’t come eas­ily for Haslam, who had to fight through to the front and to de­fend the lead in both out­ings.

Haslam’s de­meanour was no­tice­ably dif­fer­ent dur­ing the week­end, the 35-year-old was quiet and re­served, vis­i­bly ner­vous about the ti­tle fight – even ad­mit­ting in the race one press con­fer­ence that he hates the pres­sure of the Show­down.

“I’ve been chip­ping away this week­end, know­ing in the back of my mind that what­ever I did it would never be enough with how the Show­down works,” Haslam told MCN.

“I’ve won 14 races this year, com­pared to Jake and Josh who have won three, yet with­out Jake’s en­gine prob­lem it was more than pos­si­ble he could have beaten me to the ti­tle at Brands. To have a 61-point lead def­i­nitely puts a smile on my face and I’ll sleep a lit­tle more eas­ily over the next cou­ple of weeks.”

Haslam came to Assen know­ing that race wins were cru­cial as Brands Hatch has never been his strong­est track with the Kawasaki. Los­ing points to Dixon here would mean he’d have to work dou­bly hard in two weeks’ time.

“It’s in­ter­est­ing, be­cause I knew I had to get as many points as pos­si­ble be­fore Brands but equally Jake has never beaten me there. That be­ing said, the Yamaha and Ducati are so strong there they could eas­ily take points away and that makes it a lit­tle more dif­fi­cult, Josh beat me there twice this year so ex­tend­ing the lead at Assen was a pri­or­ity – if I’d lost points I’d have been more wor­ried.”

And while he ac­cepts Brands has never been the eas­i­est track for him or Kawasaki, that doesn’t mean he’s go­ing to ride around to take the points next week­end.

“I might have enough points to be able to ride around and set­tle for points, but I’m not go­ing to do that. I want to sign off this ti­tle with a vic­tory, there’s no other way to do it and Brands Hatch GP is the only cir­cuit I haven’t won at with Kawasaki since com­ing back in 2016, so we need to get that sorted be­fore I head to World Su­per­bike.”

While Haslam ad­mit­ted he could sleep eas­ier with the gap he’s now got, he was sym­pa­thetic to­wards ri­val Dixon. “It’s a shame for Jake to have a me­chan­i­cal as he’d been rid­ing so strong. I feel for him.”

61-point lead with 75 still avail­able

‘I want to sign off ti­tle with a vic­tory’

Af­ter last year’s heartache it is all on track for Leon Leon can sleep a lit­tle more eas­ily af­ter Assen

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