Leon Haslam missed the chance to give BMW their maiden World Superbike victory after crashing out of a commanding lead in the first race at Assen. The Briton was lapping several seconds faster than the rest of the field in soaking conditions before a crash on lap three of the restarted race. The Derbyshire rider admitted he should have taken it a little easier given his comfortable advantage.
“Race one was dry at the start. I made a small mistake when I was battling with Carlos Checa mid-race and dropped back to sixth, but I came back in the lead. I had a bit of a tyre issue in that race but it was red-flagged anyway due to the rain. At the re-start it was raining. I passed Johnny Rea quite easily, felt pretty confident – and then had a big crash. I did not realize that I was pushing so much. In hindsight I could have backed off, but even so I did not feel that I was pushing too hard. After race one I was very disappointed because I could have lost a second a lap and still won the race, but the positive thing is that we feel pretty confident in the rain.”
Haslam rebounded to take fifth in the second race of the day despite what he later admitted was an incorrect tyre choice.
“In race two, we opted for an intermediate front and a slick rear tyre. Three minutes before the start I knew that we needed a slick front, but they would not let us change the tyre because we were running out of time. After two or three laps, the front tyre was just pushing and bouncing and I did not have any corner speed. I was surprised that the riders did not pass me sooner. But for whatever reason I managed to hold the pace of Eugene and Marco – even with the intermediate tyre. And I thought I got Marco over the line, as it was really, really close. In hindsight I am happy because we nearly got on the podium with an intermediate front tyre.”
Teammate Marco Melandri kept up his record of scoring points in every single race so far despite crashing in race one. The Italian slid off track when rain started to fall but he was handed a reprieve by the red flag.
Melandri played it safe to claim ninth before improving to fourth in race two, beating Haslam over the line by two thousandths of a second. Last year's title runner-up now trails Max Biaggi by 26 points but feels happy with the progress being made by the BMW Motorrad squad.
“It has been a very tough weekend. Today, the most important thing was to bring home points. Race one was pretty good for us when it was dry. I had a very good start and I was following Tom Sykes. I was waiting for the best moment to pass him, when he had a problem. After that, Leon was leading, but I passed him. Then I saw some drops of rain coming down and my hope was that they would stop the race, so I tried to stay at the front. But suddenly there was a turn where it was wet, I did not see the water and went down. Unfortunately our race was compromised by the wet conditions after the re-start. I did not have any grip, so it was difficult to be confident.”
“For race two we had a good set-up and a good choice of tyres, but unfortunately we got some chatter again. From the first lap on it was very difficult to control the bike, so I could not push properly. The last lap was exciting. I tried to pass Eugene and suddenly both Eugene and Leon were in front of me, but I passed them back. It was big fun and Leon, Eugene and me showed respect for each other, which was very important. I am disappointed because I just missed the podium, but we are working hard and are in good shape.”