Leon Haslam clinched the 2018 British Superbike Championship title with two races to spare after riding to a sensible sixth place in today’s opening race at Brands Hatch.
The 35-year-old Carole Nash backed rider arrived at the Kent circuit with a 61 point advantage over Jake Dixon after an utterly dominant season, and despite Dixon finishing second in Saturday’s 20 lap race, Haslam was able to clinch his first British title with a professional, risk free, ride at the back of the leading pack.
“It felt like the longest race ever,” Haslam said after the race. “I wanted to go out and ride like I have done all season but I have been riding tight all weekend. I wanted to push on but every time I caught Hicky (Peter Hickman) I didn’t want to make a mistake by passing him. I knew that Jake wasn’t leading so I settled for where I was. This year has been fantastic. It’s my second year with the team and it has been faultless. Running around in sixth to win the title wasn’t my style, but the 14 wins we’ve had this year shows what a great year we’ve had. We’ve had fantastic battles with many riders and won at every circuit except this one, so hopefully we can rectify that tomorrow!”
Glenn Irwin, Haslam’s replacement at the JG Speedfit Kawasaki team in 2019, led almost the entire race to take the win on his PBM Ducati, while Dixon had to battle past Irwin’s team-mate and younger brother, Andrew, to take the second, with Tarran Mackenzie third on his Yamaha.
Wet weather is forecast for tomorrow, when Leon will look to add to his 14 race wins in 2018, before he moves back in to the Superbike World Championship, as team-mate to four-time champ Jonathan Rea at the factory KRT Kawasaki squad.
As well as Haslam’s win, Dubliner Jack Kennedy secured the British supersport title on his Integro Yamaha YZF-R6. In Argentina, it was business as usual as Rea won the first ever race at the new San Juan circuit. The result sees Kawasaki secure the 2019 manufacturer’s title, while Jonathan extended his run of wins to nine – equalling the record currently held by Colin Edwards and Neil Hodgson.