LEON TAKES SUPERB PODIUM IN RACE 1. SYLVAIN JUST MISSES OUT IN RACE 2.

The title might already have been decided but Suzuki Alstare riders Leon Haslam and Sylvain Guintoli gave everything they had at Magny-Cours today and acquitted themselves very well. Leon fought his way to runner-up spot in the first race after a battling up from seventh on lap 1. Towards the end, he was locked in a dogfight with Max Biaggi (Aprilia), but managed to overtake him just two corners from the end of the final lap and make it stick. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) won the race and Carlos Checa (Ducati) also got the better of Biaggi to finish third. Sylvain was second at the end of the opening lap, and remained in the top six throughout the 23-lapper, but was disqualified for ignoring a black flag.

Sylvain started race 2 as if he was on fire. The Frenchman led the first eight laps and it looked as if his first podium was on the cards. He dropped to fourth after 16 laps but hustled his way back into contention in the final stages only to be thwarted by Michel Fabrizio (Ducati). Biaggi won the race by the narrowest of margins, with Crutchlow second and Fabrizio third.

After race 1, Leon knew that another podium was a possibility, despite his third row grid position. His start was not particularly good, but he began attacking the leaders and he looked on course for podium number 14. But, on lap 6, Toseland highsided in front of him and Leon had to take to the grass to avoid hitting his fellow countryman. By the time he rejoined the track, he was in 16th place, but a lap later he was already up to 13th. From then on in, Leon was on a charge, but the leaders were too far ahead. In the end, he finished 10th.

Leon - Race 1: 2nd, Race 2: 10th
The first race was the kind of race I love. Full of fighting and everything on the line. I am so happy to get second and so happy to have beaten Max. On the last lap, Max defended his line going into the final two turns, but I was determined to get the better of him and dived underneath him! That surprised him and he wasn't able to recover in time. It was a pretty hard move, but racing's a hard game and sometimes you just have to be tough. I was particularly happy to get on the podium because I didn't get a very good start. I had just worked away and gradually got back into contention. Throughout the whole race I had to make some pretty odd moves, but that's what I had to do to get into the situation of challenging for the podium. The championship might have been over, but I always want to win races and that's what I set about doing.

So, although I was on row three of the grid, I knew that a podium was also a possibility in race two. That is until, JT's highside right in front of me! All weekend, he's been riding a bit desperate. The third row of the grid is one thing, but finding yourself in 16th, with the pack long gone is another matter because I had lost so much time going on the grass after avoiding JT. Tenth is not how I wanted to season to end, but that's racing.

It's been a great year. I only had a couple of DNFs - one my fault and one not - and I've scored 14 podiums. I'm very happy with the season and would like to thank everybody at Alstare Suzuki for all their hard work and support. They made this all possible - the best season I've ever had!

Sylvain - Race 1: Disqualified, Race 2: 4th
Too be honest, I'm absolutely gutted! I fought like an animal today and half my effort was ruined because of a black flag. That was in race 1, when I was happily fighting in the top four. I did accidentally cut part of a chicane, but made sure I didn't gain any positional advantage, but it seems that I was supposed to rejoin in some marked area. I didn't see any area, so just assumed all was OK. Later the black flag with my number came out, but by then it was too late. I got disqualified because I was adjudged to have not respected the black flag.

Race 2 is why I race. It was brilliant! I made a great start and led the first eight laps. I was comfortable in the lead, in fact I felt more comfortable in the front than when I am in a pack of riders. I had a really good battle with Fabrizio in the closing stages. We must have overtaken each other four times on just one lap! Also, he hit me a couple of times, but it was all just a good fight. I did my best to get past him and stay there, but just couldn't manage it. I'm very disappointed not to have got on the podium.

I've had a fantastic season. I have learnt so much from this team. They've pushed me , made me change as a rider (for the better) and helped me grow. I have felt part of the Alstare family from the beginning and I would like to thank Francis and the whole team for this wonderful experience.

-source: suzuki alstare