Leon Haslam says that it’s a huge weight off his shoulders having secured his maiden Bennetts British Superbike title in the opening race at Brands Hatch.
The JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider ended Saturday’s race in sixth, opening an unassailable 51-point advantage over Jake Dixon – who finished the race second.
Haslam becomes the British Superbike champion for the first time in his career, having finished as runner-up in the series on three occasions. Speaking after the race, a delighted Haslam said:
“That was the longest race ever! I wanted the boys to push on but when I caught Hicky, I could see that Jake wasn’t leading so settled into sixth place as I knew I could clinch the title in that position.
“It was a long 20 laps and it’s been a while coming but it’s been a fantastic year and the team have been faultless. It’s not my style to finish in sixth place but I did what I needed to do to get the job done and 14 wins shows what a year we’ve had. It’s a huge weight off my shoulders and I’m delighted, so a big thanks to everyone.”
The 35-year-old started the race from eighth on the grid and took it steady on the the opening lap, crossing the line in seventh. Haslam would move up into sixth on lap five, with the top six never covered by more than two seconds. Sticking to the back Smiths Racing BMW’s Peter Hickman, Haslam could see Dixon circulating in second and knew that his current position would be enough for the title.
Haslam’s title success was also the first BSB championship for the JG Speedfit Kawasaki team and the first for the official Kawasaki team since 1992.
Team Owner, Pete Extance, said:
“It’s been an incredible day, not just for the team but for Kawasaki UK as well, winning their first official title since John Reynolds in 1992, and I’m so pleased for the Haslam family and they fully deserve the title.
“We’re happy to be the people and team to give them the Championship and there’s so many people to thank especially JG Speedfit, Quattro Plant and Cool Milk. It’s hard to find the words at the moment but we’ll enjoy tonight, let it all sink in and then come back for the final two races tomorrow.”
The final two races of the 2018 season are scheduled to take place at 12:45 and 16:00 respectively. The championship presentation will take place after the final race of the day.