Motorcycling: Haslam's crash leaves Kiyonari nearer title ambition

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The Independent Online

Leon Haslam, the only home rider who can win the British Superbike Championship, slumped from the lead to third place in the points table after two disastrous races at Silverstone yesterday.

Haslam, 23, was leading the first race when crashing his Airwaves Ducati, leaving the Japanese rider Ryuichi Kiyonari to take victory on his factory HM Plant Honda.

Haslam switched to his spare bike, and again took the lead from Kiyonari in the second race. But his pace slowed and Kiyonari, who has spent three years trying to win the British title, swept to his third double victory of the season.

"I pushed too hard in the first race," Haslam admitted later. "It took me a few laps to get into it on my second bike in the next race, and I didn't have the confidence."

The rider who gained most from the drama was Haslam's team-mate Gregorio Lavilla, whose two second places gave him the championship lead. With 377 points, he is one ahead of Kiyonari and nine ahead of Haslam.

The title remains wide open, as the two races at the finale at Brands Hatch next month score double, with 100 points available for a double winner.

Cal Crutchlow, 20, won the British Supersport race and the championship on his Northpoint Ekerold Honda, and hopes to progress to the 1,000cc superbikes in 2007.

* The championship leader, Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda), maintained a 21-point advantage over Valentino Rossi (Camel Yamaha) after yesterday's Australian MotoGP at Phillip Island.