Motocycling: Haslam takes pole with record-breaking lap

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The Independent Online

Leon Haslam was delighted with pole position for today's 11th round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship with the fastest ever two-wheeled lap of the circuit here.

The Airwaves Ducati rider headed off the challenge of his team-mate and title rival Gregorio Lavilla by almost a third of a second as he held the upper hand in a high-speed shoot-out for supremacy, twice hitting back after the Spaniard had posted a faster lap.

Haslam clinched his fourth pole start, at the same time extending his advantage in the Audi Performance Award standings, with a lap of 1min 26.392sec of the 2.18-mile Lincolnshire circuit, at an average speed of 90.84mph. The 22-year-old Derbyshire rider was 1.7sec inside the previous best, and almost a second better than the pole record.

Haslam goes into today's two races trailing Ryuichi Kiyonari, the HM Plant Honda rider, by three points. Haslam holds a 15-point advantage over the reigning champion Lavilla, who put in a series of strong consistent laps, the best of them in a time of 1min 26.683sec. Having taken a pair of seconds in the corresponding round of last year, Lavilla is feeling confident he can run out front.

The Honda threat is led by Karl Harris, who took a bruising in a heavy tumble during the morning session, but bounced back to set the fifth best time.

But his team-mate Kiyonari was having a tough time. The Japanese rider also starts from the second row after setting the seventh fastest time with his best lap of 1min 27.636sec.