In racing time, Leon Haslam is about a million years old. Born into a racing family, the 26 year-old Englishman has competed on everything from motocross to 500 GP bikes and he has the resume of a much older rider. It seems like the "Pocket Rocket" has been on the scene forever. Since starting his Superbike career in 2003, the one thing that Haslam has lacked has been the Really Good Ride. This year, after a 2009 season spent punching way above his weight on the privateer Stiggy Honda team, Haslam has that good ride with the factory backed Alstare Suzuki team and he's taking maximum advantage of the opportunity.
Aboard what WSBK commentator Steve Martin characterizes as a kinder, gentler version of the GSXR1000 superbike, Haslam has led the championship since the thrilling photo-finish that decided race one at Phillip Island. Last weekend, at what might be the last Superbike race at Kyalami ever, Haslam's third in race one and exciting win in race two put him 15 points ahead of his nearest rival, Alitalia Aprilia's Max Biaggi, and brought him a couple of small steps closer to the 2010 World Superbike title
Race 1 -- Ducks In A Row
Michel Fabrizio got a rabbit start to take the lead, got out in front and stayed there for the rest of the race. Ho hum. What a difference a week makes. Carlos Checa, currently the leading Ducati rider in the standings, slotted into second early with James Toseland and Leon Haslam fighting it out for fourth until Toseland ran wide at the Westland turn on lap 12. The real excitement in race one came near the end, Jonny Rea, who was mired near the bottom of the top ten for most of the race, made a late charge, dispatching Toseland and Leon Camier from the outside in one fell swoop with 4 laps to go to take fifth.
Race 2 -- Rule Britania
Race two was as different in character from race one as it is possible to be. Jonny Rea, who had his Ten Kate Honda team slap a slightly harder rear spring on his CBR1000RR in betwixt races, came within a lap and a half of winning, but was denied by a hard-charging Leon Haslam who had battled with the Ulsterman for nearly the entire race with Max Biaggi and Cal Crutchlow in tow.
You Can Never Be Too Rich Or Too Thin
In spite of Fabrizio's win in race one, as a result of their, for the most part, abysmal showing in the first five rounds,
Ducatis twins will get a 3 kilo weight break starting at the next round in Salt Lake City. As math has never been this commentator's strong suit, an explanation by me would probably confuse all of us. You can read an excellent summation on this site, authored by our own Mr. Emmett.
All sorts of rumors have been swirling about the paddock concerning Ducati, the juiciest being that Troy Bayliss will make a comeback. Ducati will test at Misano in mid-June with the three-time WSBK champion in attendance and the Misano round is a scant two weeks hence so it wouldn't be overly surprising to see the Aussie back in the saddle then. Carlos Checa is expecting to get help from Ducati on the parts front, most likely an improved electronics package.
See The USA
The circus will make the trek across the pond to Miller Motorsports Park in two weeks. For our readers not conversant in American holidays, The race will be run on a Monday -- May 31st -- which is Memorial Day in the US. This commentator hopes to see some of you there.