Nurburgring: Suzuki Alstare Sunday report

HEROIC LEON DEFIES PAIN TO TAKE SUPERB PODIUM! Team Suzuki Alstare rider Leon Haslam defied the pain barrier in today's second Superbike World Championship race at the Nurburgring, taking a superb podium despite a dislocated right thumb and ...

HEROIC LEON DEFIES PAIN TO TAKE SUPERB PODIUM!

Team Suzuki Alstare rider Leon Haslam defied the pain barrier in today's second Superbike World Championship race at the Nurburgring, taking a superb podium despite a dislocated right thumb and damaged knee ligaments. Leon had crashed at the start of race one, when he was highsided and it was fortunate that the race was red-flagged and he and the other fallers were able to make the restart. His bike was too badly damaged to take part in the restart, so he was forced to use his spare bike - one that he had only used for a handful of laps in practice and qualifying. The set-up and feel of the bike were different to that of his number one bike, but he rode superbly to take a very creditable sixth place. That was impressive enough, but in race two he surprised everybody with his grit, determination and fighting spirit, to take third place at the end of what would have been (for him) a very tough 20-lapper. His reward was a reduction in the gap between him and series leader Max Biaggi (Aprilia) to 58 points, with two rounds and 100 points still up for grabs.

It was a bit of a disappointing day for Leon's team mate Sylvain Guintoli who had qualified on the front row of the grid for the first time this season. The Frenchman was taken out by Troy Corser on the opening lap of race one and was forced into the gravel. He rejoined the action second last, but then fought his way up through the field to take a highly deserved 8th place.

In race two, he was unable to capitalise on his front row grid slot and found himself in 8th at the end of the first lap. Once again he powered his way through the pack and slotted in behind Biaggi in 5th. He tried everything he could to get past Biaggi, but his Suzuki's acceleration was no match for the Aprilia and ended just over two tenths of a second adrift at the flag.

Race one had started with a battle between Jonathan Rea (Honda), with Carlos Checa (Ducati) and Noriyuki Haga (Ducati). But after Haga crashed out on lap 8, Rea was able to control the race and comfortably run out the winner. Checa was second, with Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) third. In the second race, Haga redeemed himself by taking the win, over three seconds ahead of Rea, with Leon third.

Leon - Race 1: 6th, Race 2: 3rd
My crash in race one was a highside and I am sorry that it caused Troy to crash also. Luckily the race was stopped and everybody was able to have another go. I had hurt my right thumb and left knee and they were very sore, but I was determined to get out there and give my all. Once the race started, the adrenaline kicked in and I think I would've been much faster and more competitive if it had not been for the fact that I was on my number two bike. The mechanics weren't able to repair my number one bike in time for the restart. I had only done a few laps on the spare bike and so the set-up wasn't as good and it was that which prevented me challenging the front guys, not my injuries.

The team repaired my number one bike in time for race two and I felt much happier. They and the Clinica Mobile staff did great jobs and it was thanks to both of them that I was able to get on the bike and take a podium. I'm sure I'm going to be pretty sore tonight and although I would've wanted a couple of wins today, I was happy to get on the podium and with 100 points possible in the next two rounds, anything can happen.

Sylvain - Race 1: 8th, Race 2: 6th
Well I'm happy and not happy. I'm happy that I got on the front row in qualifying and that my race pace was good. If Troy had not have forced me out on lap one of the first race, the ending might've been a different story. Once I got back on the track, I felt I was lapping as fast as anybody really and I suppose 8th was a pretty good result, considering. I was angry with Troy because I honestly felt I could get on the podium. We changed the rear tyre for race 2, but I didn't make a good start and that gave me a lot of work to do early on. It took me about half race distance to get close enough to Max (Biaggi) and I then spent the rest of the race trying to pass him. I could match him on the brakes and in the turns OK, but his bike had much better acceleration out of the corners and that's where I was losing out. I attacked as best I could, but he's a very experienced rider and didn't make any mistakes. It was a big pity, because if I could've passed him, that would've helped Leon and I wanted to do it for him and the team.

-source: team alstare

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About this article
Series World Superbike
Drivers Carlos Checa , Noriyuki Haga , Troy Corser , Leon Haslam , Jonathan Rea , Cal Crutchlow