News 5 Oct 2009

WSBK: Spies loses ground on Haga despite win for Yamaha in France


It was yet another tough race weekend for Yamaha World Superbike rider Ben Spies at Magny Cours today. The penultimate round of the 2009 championship saw Spies take one race victory, and then hang on desperately for points with a front tyre that struggled to perform in race two.

The American rider took the lead from the start of the first race, hotly pursued by championship rival Noriyuki Haga. Spies held onto the lead until the last lap, where Haga managed to pass. His lead was short lived however as Spies retook the front position a few seconds later to cross the line and claim his 13th win of the season. Race two saw him off the line into third chasing Biaggi and Haga into the first corner. It soon became apparent that Spies was finding it hard to lay down power in the corners, as his front tyre hampered his attack. Rea made a pass at the end of the first lap dropping Ben to fourth, a position he managed to hold until the line, despite dropping nearly a second a lap from the front group over the last few laps of the race.

Tom Sykes endured a disastrous race day; the second lap of the first race saw the rider over brake slightly, causing a huge crash sending his bike catapulting down the track, narrowly missing him. Sykes was uninjured barring a small break to his right little finger, so rejoined for race two. Unfortunately on the second lap of the second race, a yellow flag caused rider Carlos Checa a moment of indecision, resulting in him running too hot into Sykes at the hairpin and taking him out. Fortunately he has just a bruised shoulder but will be fit for the Portimao races.

Spies now heads into the final two races at the Portimao circuit with 426 points, trailing championship leader Haga on 436 by ten points. A double win in Portugal will secure the title for the all-time greatest rookie in the series. Team mate Tom Sykes remains in eighth position heading to the last round, on 176 points and trailing seventh placed rider Checa by 24 points.

Ben Spies, Yamaha World Superbike Team, (1st, 4th)
“The whole first race had some good parts and bad ones. We made some small mistakes, costing us a tenth here and a tenth there letting the riders come back and not really taking advantage of the lead. I made a mistake on the last lap and let Nori through, so I had to get on the outside and get back past. Honestly I’m just super disappointed with the second race. We made a rear tyre choice which was neither better nor worse, but the front tyre we had on in the second race was hard to go at a pace with. I was consistently half a second off what we were doing in practice. I’m honestly surprised we didn’t finish in tenth with the way the bike felt. Even if we had won today we would still go to Portimao having to win both races so it doesn’t really change too much.”

Tom Sykes, Yamaha World Superbike Team, (DNF, DNF)
“race one I made a bit of a mistake, I went for the brake lever and it was just a touch further out than I normally have it so my initial brake pressure was really strong and I knew that, but I had a split second and I lost the front and couldn’t save it. It was a massive crash and I was lucky to get away with it. For race two we changed the rear tyre, which I wasn’t convinced was the right one but we went with anyway, unfortunately I was proved right and was struggling with it. Before I could do anything, going into the hairpin Carlos Checa made a big mistake and I got caught up in that and landed badly, pulling the muscles in my shoulder. Luckily nothing broken, so a weekend to forget, and I’m looking forward to something better in Portimao.”

Massimo Meregalli, Yamaha World Superbike Team Manager
“We won the first race, and we were thinking we would catch up some more points to Nori in the second. Something went wrong, unfortunately outside of our control, and there was nothing Ben could do to ride round it. We are going to Portimao with just one target, to win both races, which I think is possible. Tom had a really bad weekend with three crashes, I’m sorry for him as he was trying really hard to get results and unfortunately for him everything went wrong. We will see what happens in Portugal.”