News 22 Jun 2009

WSBK: Spies closes championship gap by five points in Italy

Yamaha Racing:

Race one saw drama unfold as the World Superbike riders headed out for a wet race but were forced to change midway for slicks as the rain stopped and the sun broke out. Yamaha rider Ben Spies spent most of the wet heat in 4th tucked up behind rival Fabrizio as he paced himself on the damp track. He picked the ideal time to change to his dry bike on lap 13, emerging from the pits right behind Fabrizio, taking him swiftly for 8th position. Spies then displayed a typical Texan masterclass in racing, working swiftly up to take Xaus for the lead on lap 17, leading from there to the chequered flag. Race two saw a technical issue with the clutch drop Spies from 2nd back to 17th. He then proved his skill yet again, riding round the fault to work through eight riders to take ninth in the race.

Team-mate Tom Sykes made up for an average qualifying position to post good finishes in both races. Race one saw the British rider pit early for slicks and then come out fighting in 13th, enjoying the damp conditions he pushed on to eventually take eighth at the chequered flag. Race two saw a good start, Sykes moving to 11th then fighting hard all the way up to duel with Haslam for the 7th place spot as the race end drew close. Having lost the spot to Haslam on lap 20 he took it back again and crossed the line to claim his well deserved points.

Spies now prepares for Donington next week on 244 points, second in the championship and now closer to Haga, with 48 points separating them. Sykes heads back to the UK for his home race seventh in the championship on 130 points, with only five points separating him from fifth placed Max Biaggi.

Ben Spies, Yamaha World Superbike Team (1st, 9th)
“Race one was definitely better than race two! It was good for us, we did what we had to do. I stayed as close as I could to Fabrizio, I couldn’t run Byrne’s pace but wanted to stay with Michel as he was the one who mattered to me in the championship. I picked the right moment to come in and get out on dry tyres and switch bikes and put in good pace and we managed to win the race. Race two wasn’t so great, I had an issue with the clutch on the start, for the first few laps I was short shifting and trying to ride round it. It finally came better but when I got behind Corser and Kagayama and those guys I couldn’t get round them easily. The last seven or eight laps it came good and I tried to run everyone down and started picking them off. I got up to Sykes and Haslam and they were having their little battle, we were definitely faster but I needed another lap to get round them which I didn’t have. It’s frustrating as we’ve lost good points this year and we’d be leading the championship with them. We’ll go to Donington and try to start over again and see what happens.”

Tom Sykes, Yamaha World Superbike Team (8th, 7th)
“From where we qualified we’ve made a bit better day of things than I expected. For race 1 in the wet I had some difficulty with too much traction in the first heat. I pulled in a bit sooner than I would have done if I’d had a perfect wet set up. In the second half we were fast and consistent, I really enjoyed it, the 14 laps felt like two it was over so quickly. Race two we made a couple more changes and I was pretty happy with the balance of the bike, I struggled with some rear grip but we’re improving the small bits and it’s onwards and upwards. It’s been a tough weekend and I’d like to thank the whole of the team, we’ve put our heads together and they put in a lot of hard work and effort to improve the bike.”

Massimo Meregalli, Yamaha World Superbike Team Manager
“The first race was amazing, the second race was different! In the end we came here 54 points behind Nori and now we’re 48 points behind so it’s still better for the championship. Tom made a great improvement which was really important for him so now we’re going to Donington where he will make another step. Both Ben and Tom know the track there, and Ben has showed us that when he doesn’t have to learn the track he can be even quicker. See you in a week.”