Leon Haslam held on in a gripping head-to-head battle with championship rival Jake Dixon to win race one at Assen. The title rivals couldn’t be separated throughout the race with Haslam eventually hanging on by 0.086s, extending his lead to 36 points with four races to go, while Tarran Mackenzie underlined his potential for the future by finishing third.
Dixon had set a new pole position record on Saturday to claim pole position by four thousandths of a second from Mackenzie but the young Scotsman quickly put things right for McAMS Yamaha, snatching the lead on the opening lap. With Tarran running a softer rear tyre, the title challengers were prepared to play a waiting game in the leading group on their harder rubber, following close behind the YZF-R1.
With Peter Hickman becoming an increasing threat in fourth, Haslam upped the pace at half-distance, outbraking Dixon for second into turn one, but the series leader had to wait until lap 16 before finally overhauling Mackenzie. Even then, the rookie fought gallantly with Haslam’s initial attack rebuffed with a brave move at turn three. A second attempt into the final chicane finally secured the lead though.
Dixon’s title hopes were now starting to fade, especially when Hickman relegated him to fourth on the penultimate lap. The RAF Regular & Reserves rider responded brilliantly though, aided by an error from Hickman at De Strubben, and immediately retook the BMW before outbraking the fading Mackenzie at the chicane. Despite a personal best on the final lap though, Dixon fell marginally short of catching Haslam for victory.
Mackenzie held off Hickman for third while Glenn Irwin finished a lonely fourth, moving him up to third in the championship. Tommy Bridewell kept up his impressive recent form in sixth ahead of Jason O’Halloran and Christian Iddon while any lingering hopes Josh Brookes had of a title challenge disappeared with a disappointing ninth place finish.
Bennetts British Superbike Championship – Riders’ Standings (4 Races to Go)
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