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