Leon Haslam Wins Phillip Island WSBK Race 2 By Narrowest Of Margins


British riders have stolen the show at the opening round of the 2015 Superbike World Championship at Phillip Island, with Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam sharing first and second places in the two races, pushed all the way by Chaz Davies.

For Australia's Troy Bayliss, making a celebrated return to world superbike action after seven years away from the island, it was a trying outing on the factory Ducati as he recorded 13-16 results.

Northern Ireland's Rea (Kawasaki) was the first rider to get a win on the board in 2015 when he won race one, holding off Haslam (Aprilia) by just 0.039 seconds after a pulsating 22 laps.

It was Rea's maiden victory at Phillip Island, as well as reaching the summit for the first time out with his new employer, Kawasaki.

The breakthrough also came on Rea's second 'home' track, as he's married to a Phillip Island girl, Tatia Weston, and spends Australian summers at the seaside location.

"I had a bet with myself after I was talking to my team manager this morning and he was being conservative with our targets for this weekend," said Rea. "I knew how I could do a good job and do the team proud.

"Race one was particularly tough. I was thinking it would be like a bicycle race with different people doing some work at the front but no-one seemed to put their nose in the wind too much.

"So I had to consciously look after my tyre and go as slow as I could and stay at the front so it was a really strange race. The last lap when Leon came past I was lucky to have enough rubber to fight with him."

Rea had his Kawasaki in front for all but one lap of race one, while Haslam had to fight back after exiting stage right on lap 15 at Stoner Corner (turn three), but he quickly rallied to work his way back into the fight for the lead.

Davies was also in the top three for the entire distance, but just couldn't mount a challenge on the final lap as he completed the podium in front of impressive newcomers Jordi Torres (Aprilia) and Michael van der Mark (Honda).

Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) was sixth after running off the track at turn one on lap, which dropped him well out of the top 10.
Jonathan Rea backed up his race one win with a narrow second place finish in race two - Credit: Supplied
In race two, Haslam turned the tables on his former Honda teammate with a stirring come-from behind 0.010-second victory.

Rea led onto Gardner Straight for the last time, but Haslam was able to propel his machine into the top spot just metres from the finish line. It was Haslam's first victory in five years, the same year he also won at Phillip Island on a Suzuki.

Haslam and Rea completed round one with 45pt hauls, followed by Ducati's Chaz Davies on 32pts.

"What a fantastic day," said Haslam. All the hard work, all the broken bones, all the operations over the past few years ‰ÛÒ it makes it all up for it just this one victory.

"The biggest thing is I am so happy with the bike and the team. Even if we had finished third or fourth I‰Ûªm so happy with what we are doing with the bike, the progression, and I think there is so much more still to come.

"As a rider, you always think you are better than everyone else; that is natural But when you have three or four years of hard work and many crashes you start to doubt yourself and your confidence goes down.

"Now with the new team every lap I do the more confidence I get. By mid-season I should be very happy!"

Davies flashed across the finish line just 0.298 seconds behind Haslam, followed by Sykes, world champion Sylvain Guintoli (Honda) and Nico Terol (Ducati). Davies set the fastest lap of the day in race two ‰ÛÒ 1:31.725.

At one stage there were about eight riders running line astern in the 22-lapper, but attrition eventually took its toll when Torres and van der Mark crashed out on consecutive laps in the latter stages of the race. Earlier, van der Mark led for five laps as the battle went into a semi holding pattern as riders conserved their tyres before the final onslaught.
Troy Bayliss showed impressive speed in his return to racing - Credit: Supplied
Forty-five-year-old Bayliss was as high as seventh in both races, but faded to finish 13th in the opener and had to enter the pits in race two to change a blistered rear tyre and was out of the points in 16th.

He said he felt like a "boxer coming out of retirement" over the past few days.

"It's been a strange one to come back after so many years. I did this comeback for a lot of reasons, and in the end I made some really good progress -- but still I am actually a little bit pissed off, which proves that I am still a racer!

"To run with the guys I felt really good, but we had some problems with the tyre; Phillip Island can really do that.‰Û
Race one Podium - Credit: Supplied
WSBK Race One Results: 1. Jonathan Rea (GBR) ‰ÛÒ Kawasaki
2. Leon Haslam (GBR) ‰ÛÒ Aprilia
3. Chaz Davies (GBR) ‰ÛÒ Ducati
4. Jordi Torres (Spain) ‰ÛÒ Aprilia
5. Michael Van der Mark (Netherlands) Honda
6. Tom Sykes (GBR) ‰ÛÒ Kawasaki
7. Sylvain Guintoli (France) ‰ÛÒ Honda
8. Nicolo Terol (Spain ) ‰ÛÒ Ducati
9. Alex Lowes (GBR) ‰ÛÒ Suzuki
10. Leon Camier (GBR) - MV Agusta
13. Troy Bayliss (AUS ‰ÛÒ Taree/Gold Coast ) ‰ÛÒ Ducati
14. Jed Metcher (AUS - Melbourne) ‰ÛÒ Kawasaki

WSBK Race two Results:
1. Leon Haslam (91) GBR ‰ÛÒ Aprilia
2. Jonathan Rea (65) GBR ‰ÛÒ Kawasaki
3. Chaz Davies (7) GBR ‰ÛÒ Ducati
4. Tom Sykes (66) GBR ‰ÛÒ Kawasaki
5. Sylvain Guintoli (1) France ‰ÛÒ Honda
6. Nicolas Terol (18) Spain ‰ÛÒ Ducati
7. Randy De Puniet (14) France ‰ÛÒ Suzuki
8. Leon Camier (2) ‰ÛÒ GBR ‰ÛÒ MV Agusta
9. Matteo Baiocco (15) ‰ÛÒ ITA ‰ÛÒ Ducati
10. Roman Ramos (40)- Spain ‰ÛÒ Kawasaki 16. Troy Bayliss (21) ‰ÛÒ Australia (Taree/Gold Coast) ‰ÛÒ Ducati
RET. Jed Metcher (77) -Australia ‰ÛÒ Melbourne ‰ÛÒ Kawasaki

WSBK Championship Standings:
1. Leon Haslam (GBR) - 45 Pts
2. Jonathan Rea (GBR) - 45 Pts
3. Chaz Davis (GBR) - 32 Pts
4. Tom Sykes (GBR) - 23 Pts
5. Sylvain Guintoli - 20 Pts
6. Nicolas Terol (ESP) - 18 Pts
7. Leon Camier (GBR) - 14 Pts
8. Jordi Torres (ESP) - 13 Pts
9. Matteo Baiocco (ITA) - 12 Pts
10. Michael Van Der Mark (NED) - 1 Pts


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