An eventful race in Italy for Leon Haslam

SMALLEY’S Leon Haslam secured a second podium finish of the 2011 World Superbike Championship with third place in Sunday’s opening race of the fourth round at Monza in Italy before crashing out at the first corner of the second race.

The BMW rider was fastest in qualifying after Friday’s and Saturday’s action and eventually, after Superpole, qualified in sixth place on the grid aboard his S1000RR machine.

The opening 18-lap race at the high-speed historic venue near Milan featured a thrilling 200mph fight as Haslam held third place for much of the time, easing into second place briefly before crossing the finish line for his sixth top five finish from seven races.

“I felt that I could run the pace to win the race,” explained Haslam who finished just 3.078s behind winner Eugene Laverty of Ireland.

“But I got involved in a fight with Max Biaggi and we slowed each other up and allowed Eugene to get an advantage.

“It’s nice to be on the podium again though.’

Haslam’s second race ended at the tricky first chicane at Monza as he and two other riders all crashed in the hectic first corner tussle. Haslam suffered a broken toe as he endured a first non-finish of the year.

“I was hit from behind at the first corner and that’s about all I know,’ said Haslam.

“It was the end of the race for me which is a major disappointment. I’ve a broken toe on my right foot but it won’t affect the testing we’ve got coming up or the next round in America.’

The next round is at the Miller Motorsports Park, Salt Lake City, USA on May 28-30.