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02 April 2012

WSBK double podium

Haslam scores first ever WSBK double podium for BMW Motorrad
The best ever BMW World Superbike results were the reward for BMW Motorrad Motorsport rider, Leon Haslam, as a result of consistent performances at the 4.936km track of Imola in Italy today. The Brit picked up two hard fought third places to take to the podium in both 21-lap races. It was the kickstart to the season that he had hoped for, following an injury-marred start to the season at Phillip Island, and sees him move to 4th place overall in the championship standings, just ahead of team-mate Marco Melandri.

Despite a difficult start to the first race for Leon, he worked hard to claim his first ever Imola podium. The British rider, who was eager to establish himself among the frontrunners for title contention, dropped to 6th position on track from 4th on the grid after running onto the grass on the opening lap.

However, Leon quickly recovered, and set about chasing down the leading pack. By lap 4 he had passed fellow Brit, Jonathan Rea, at Acque Minerale for fourth position and set about chasing down Max Biaggi. With just five laps remaining, Haslam passed his rival and the pair swapped places several times before Haslam maintained the advantage aboard the S 1000 RR. He held on to 3rd position until the chequered flag for his first podium of the season.

Race two was a repeat performance for Haslam, again passing Biaggi for third position on track, this time with 8 laps remaining. He set about hunting down fellow Brit, Tom Sykes in second, after an intense battle Haslam achieved third place at the chequered flag.

Team-mate Marco Melandri also suffered an early setback in race one, running straight on into pit lane on lap 2. However, not disheartened he rejoined at the back of the field and focused on those in front of him and bravely fought his way through the pack at his home circuit of Imola, urged on further by his home crowd. He clawed his way back to sixth place, battling to the very end, with a last lap fight to the line with Juan Lascorz.

Race two was more difficult, with Marco initially working his way into 5th position and fending off the chasing pack for a third of the 21-lap race. However, Melandri was battling with a chattering issue on his bike due to warmer track conditions. He was pushed back to 10th place and he was unable to improve on his position by the end of the race.

BMW Motorrad Italia Goldbet SBK rider, Ayrton Badovini, snatched two points from the Italian event by sneaking into 15th place in the final laps of both races. Team-mate Michel Fabrizio failed to finish either race. The opening round of the Superstock 1000 class was a very successful one for BMW as well.

BMW Motorrad Italia Goldbet SBK rider, Sylvain Barrier, got the season off to a promising start with an impressive ride that saw him move effortlessly through the field to claim the first win of the season and the championship lead. Markus Reiterberger of Team Alpha Racing narrowly missed his first podium in this series only by one tenth, finishing in a strong fourth place on his BMW S 1000 RR.

Leon Haslam: “It has been a good weekend. We had a good first race and managed to get a podium position which was my first in Imola. I made a mistake in the beginning and third was the best result we could get. In 2010, Max beat me in the world championship here in Imola, so it was nice to win that fight for the podium. In race two I got a better start, but the top three got away again. I managed to catch up and I really did feel that I could beat Tom, but in the end I made a few mistakes again. Every time I pushed, I got a little bit of chatter and lost my line.

Overall, we are making progress and it is quite clear in which areas we still need to improve, but I am really happy with the first double podium for BMW. We definitely made some good steps and a big, big thanks to all the guys at BMW. For sure we will have some celebration tonight, but not too much, as we are testing tomorrow. My ankle was a bit sore after the second race, but for Assen I should be 100 percent fit again.”

Marco Melandri: “I think I could say that it was a negative day for me. In race one, we have been struggling with the gearbox and I went straight. Afterwards I was working hard to catch up. My pace was not too far from the top three guys. In race two I had quite some issues with chattering, like it was the case at Phillip Island. I could not push properly, and I destroyed the tyres so much more than in race one. I could not do anything. We do not know yet why the bike is changing. We will work on this tomorrow and I hope that we are able to make some steps forward.”

Bernhard Gobmeier (BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director): “It was an extremely exciting race Sunday. We are very happy with how Leon managed to fight his way back from the not ideal positions he had right after the start. He gave everything, found a very good rhythm and was with the very top speed wise. This shows that we are on the right way. On Marco’s side, we were not able to fully solve the chattering issues. We will work on this intensively in the next days and will hopefully solve it for the next race. The work of the team is outrageous on both sides, and the crews are doing a great job. We just need to find a solution for the technical issues on Marco’s side in order to be able to provide him the best tool.

Race One
1. C. Checa (ESP) – Ducati; 2. T. Sykes (GBR) – Kawasaki; 3. Leon Haslam (GBR) – BMW Motorrad Motorsport; 6. M. Melandri (ITA) – BMW Motorrad Motorsport; 15. Ayrton Badovini (ITA) – BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet; DNF – Michel Fabrizio (ITA) – BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet

Race Two
1. C. Checa (ESP) – Ducati; 2. T. Sykes (GBR) – Kawasaki; 3. Leon Haslam (GBR) – BMW Motorrad Motorsport; 10. Marco Melandri (ITA) – BMW Motorrad Motorsport; 15. Ayrton Badovini (ITA) BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet; DNF – Michel Fabrizio (ITA) – BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet

1. Checa (75); 2. Biaggi (71); 3. Sykes (69); 4. Haslam (68); 5. Melandri (46), 23. Badovini (2)

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