Leon Haslam has won the Audi Quattro Performance award for the season's best qualifying results after achieving pole position at Brands Hatch today. Leon recorded the fastest time of the day, 1:26.558, just as the rain started to fall with a crucial 11 minutes of qualifying remaining; as a result his time remained unchallenged for the rest of the session, resulting in pole position and a £50,000 car!
The 50 minute qualifying session looked set to be exciting from the outset with the changeable weather and track conditions. Both riders set quick times early, on a drying track, with Haslam soon going into the top 3. Times were constantly being lowered and the lead changed hands a number of times as the racing line dried. This meant that by midway through the session the Airwaves Ducati's had slipped down the order to 6th and 7th. However with 15 minutes left, Leon recorded the fastest lap of the day, which no one had the opportunity to beat due to rain. This left Haslam on pole, a row in front of his main rivals for the title, Kiyo and Airwaves Ducati team mate Lavilla, who will start from 5th and 6th respectively.
After the session had ended Greg was unperturbed by the result saying, "I wasn't worried about winning the car today, I just wanted to find the best race set up for tomorrow which we have done. The wet set up is good and I am confident with that but we are not sure if it will be wet or dry tomorrow. I am not too worried about being on the second row, obviously Leon has an advantage on pole but I have come from the second row to win before so hopefully I can get as good a start as possible and then we will have to wait and see what happens."
Knowing that he will go home with an Audi S4 regardless of what happens tomorrow a beaming Leon Haslam said, "It's fantastic, it is such a big weight off my shoulders to win the Audi, I am delighted. It's an awesome car and I am just hoping that I can drive home in it as champion tomorrow. I felt I really needed to be on the front row and I have achieved that so it is the perfect situation for me. I know that Greg and Kiyo are only just behind me on the second row, so I will still have to work very hard in the races but this has given me confidence, I can't wait!"
The Bennetts British Superbike Championship will be decided over two 20 lap races tomorrow, Sunday October 1st 2006.
"I am gutted not to have taken pole position, I think I had the measure of the rest of the field but the rain made sure I didn't get a chance to show it. On the front row at the top of the hill is pretty good though, so that's okay.
"My Rizla Suzuki is in great shape and I am enjoying riding at my home circuit. I'm at the front, racing in my neck of the woods, and fancy a couple of wins to end the season on a high note."
"On my qualifying lap I made a couple of small mistakes and I really wanted a second attempt at setting a time. I got out of pit lane before the rain started but half-way round the next lap the heavens opened and I had to settle for seventh.
"I'm happy with my Rizla Suzuki and we have settled on a tyre for both wet and dry conditions. I am looking forward to the racing and hoping I can run with the leaders and go for the podium."
- 1: Leon Haslam (Ducati) 1:26.558
- 2: Shane Byrne (Suzuki) +0.062
- 3: Michael Rutter (Honda) +0.194
- 4: Jonathan Rea (Honda) +0.195
- 5: Ryuichi Kiyonari (Honda) +0.240
- 6: Gregorio Lavilla (Ducati) +0.353
- 7: James Haydon (Suzuki) +0.674
- 8: Karl Harris (Honda) +0.753
- 9: Ben Wilson (Suzuki) +1.136
- 10: Glen Richards (Honda) +1.179