Sylvain Guintoli celebrated his first victory of the season in the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship in a race two thriller at Assen as Bennetts Suzuki team claimed their first victory as Josh Brookes and Leon Haslam returned to the podium ahead of the Brands Hatch title decider.
Haslam claimed the first MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship victory in Assen after an epic clash at the legendary Dutch circuit with a six-way scrap for supremacy with Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne scything his way through the order.
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On the opening lap James Ellison lead from Haslam, Christian Iddon and Dan Linfoot, but Guintoli was soon in the mix as he moved into third on the Bennetts Suzuki at the end of the third lap.
Byrne had started 16th on the grid, but he was forcing his way through the pack and by the sixth lap was up to fifth as the leading pack of Ellison, Haslam, Guintoli and Byrne started to trade blows at the front of the field.
Guintoli hit the lead on the tenth lap as he dived ahead of Ellison with Haslam and Byrne in close contention, but the McAMS Yamaha rider wasn’t second for long as he repaid the move to reclaim the position at the front of the field.
Byrne had moved up to third as Guintoli moved back ahead of Ellison, but Haslam was determined and he moved into second before taking the lead on lap 14 to put the JG Speedfit Kawasaki back ahead. As Haslam took the lead the pack shuffled with Ellison up to second ahead of Guintoli with Byrne in fourth as Josh Brookes and Bradley Ray closed in.
Haslam was edging an advantage but the fight wasn’t over until the line as Byrne made a decisive last lap move to put himself ahead of Ellison, but in turn the McAMS Yamaha rider had come under attack from Guintoli.
As Byrne held second, Ellison went for a last corner move on Guintoli to hold onto the final podium spot with the Bennetts Suzuki rider relegated to fourth ahead of Brookes and Ray.
Peter Hickman held off Showdown rival Jake Dixon for seventh place with John Hopkins and Jason O’Halloran completing the top ten ahead of Linfoot, Mossey and Richard Cooper after Christian Iddon crashed out unhurt.
On the opening lap of a race two thriller Byrne had hit the front of the pack from Haslam and Ellison with Guintoli, Brookes and Iddon in close contention. However instantly the riders were jostling for positions and by the third lap the Bennetts Suzuki of Guintoli was at the front and ahead of Haslam.
Haslam instantly fought back though to try and recapture the lead but as the pack streamed across the line for the fourth time Byrne led Ellison with Haslam and Guintoli next up with Brookes ready to make his attack.
By lap seven Ellison had edged into the lead on the McAMS Yamaha at the final chicane, but Byrne was pushing hard and two laps later he regained the position with Guintoli holding third ahead of Haslam and Brookes.
The five riders were trading blows for the positions and Haslam then moved ahead of Ellison to claim third as Guintoli then took the lead. On lap 16 the leading pack were all side by side as they entered turn one; Byrne and Haslam came off worst as they drifted wide and allowed Guintoli, Ellison and Brookes to emerge ahead.
Guintoli then held the advantage but Ellison was under attack and Haslam made a move on the penultimate lap to move second, but Brookes wasn’t done yet. The Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha rider waited until the final lap to make a pass; the Australian lunging ahead into second place to maintain second place in the overall standings.
Ellison held off Byrne who finished fifth for the Be Wiser Ducati team with Hickman edging ahead of Dixon to claim sixth place ahead of Iddon, Linfoot and Ray.
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Assen, race one result:
- Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki)
- Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) +1.992s
- James Ellison (McAMS Yamaha) +2.591s
- Sylvain Guintoli (Bennetts Suzuki) +2.655s
- Josh Brookes (Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha) +2.717s
- Bradley Ray (Buildbase Suzuki) +2.814s
- Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) +7.865s
- Jake Dixon (RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki) +8.210s
- John Hopkins (Moto Rapido Ducati) +11.000s
- Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) +15.666s
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Assen, race two result:
- Sylvain Guintoli (Bennetts Suzuki)
- Josh Brookes (Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha) +0.589s
- Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +0.873s
- James Ellison (McAMS Yamaha) +1.315s
- Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) +1.410s
- Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) +7.605s
- Jake Dixon (RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki) +9.221s
- Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) +9.450s
- Dan Linfoot (Honda Racing) +9.502s
- Bradley Ray (Buildbase Suzuki) +15.012s
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship standings:
- Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) 612
- Josh Brookes (Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha) 580
- Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) 579
- Jake Dixon (RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki) 558
- Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) 549
- Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) 526
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JG Speedfit Kawasaki
Championship position: 1st
“I have to keep reminding myself of the championship; it is always a battle you want to win in every race and you want to make moves you probably shouldn’t when you are trying to win a championship. It worked out well for the championship today; I was a bit disappointed after the last lap of race two, I was in a good rhythm at the end and I had a bit of an issue with the engine cutting out, but it has been a great weekend for JG Speedfit Kawasaki.
“This championship is so tough and we definitely had a hard part of the season but the Showdown is where it matters and we have three races now at Brands Hatch to try and do the same job.”
Race two winner
“It means a lot, this first victory. I felt good right away this weekend. We’ve improved the bike a lot in recent rounds, also in the wet, too, which is somewhere we’ve struggled before. But in the dry, we’ve really improved.
“I enjoyed them a lot; there was lots of fighting and people diving underneath each other, I’d never seen some of the types of passing we saw today. But it was all safe and a lot of fun.
“We were unlucky to miss the podium in race one but in race two I felt really strong. We knew we had to develop the bike this year, but sometimes people want things right away. But it wasn’t going to happen in a championship this competitive, but we’re making steps and this shows that the bike is improving.”