Any thoughts that Leon Haslam would take it easy at the Silverstone round of the British Superbike Championship were quashed after the JG Speedfit Kawasaki stormed to three victories in the last round before the title-deciding showdown phase of the series.
The 35-year-old had already confirmed his place in the ‘Showdown Six’ ahead of the visit to Silverstone but received a scare during Friday’s opening practice session when he suffered a huge highside crash at Brooklands corner. After being taken to the medical centre for a check up, the Carole Nash backed star was cleared to continue and he went on to complete his hat-trick of wins despite some incredibly close battles that saw two of the three races decided by less than two-tenths of a second.
“It wasn’t the best start to the weekend but the races have been awesome, not just the wins but also the battles,” said Leon. “In every race there were so many people in the battles. Normally in a race you can make a plan, save the tyre, go for it in the last five laps… but in all three races there was no real plan, just a case of putting yourself in a good place and have a go when you could.”
Despite scoring his 12th win of the season, Leon now loses what would have been a near 150 point advantage. Under the showdown system, the top six riders have their traditional race points reset and are reallocated points based on podium finishes for the final sprint to the championship. That means that Leon has an advantage of just 45 points over fellow Kawasaki rider Jake Dixon, with Yamaha’s Josh Brookes and Suzuki rider Bradley Ray a further four points adrift. Ducati rider Glenn Irwin makes his first showdown, 52 points behind Haslam, with TT ace Peter Hickman making up the six title fighters.
“The lead’s gone and we start again at Oulton Park,” Leon added. “We’ve got a little bit of an advantage with the podium credits but anything can happen. It only takes a little bit of bad luck and we’re all square. There are so many others in the mix, so we just have to concentrate on ourselves and hopefully hold it all together.”
The 2018 British Superbike title will be decided over seven races across three race weekends, starting at Oulton Park in Cheshire this weekend and finishing at Brands Hatch in Kent on the weekend of 12-14 October.