Any doubt of Ben Spies’ claim to all-time rookie fame was squashed today as he took pole position ahead of tomorrow’s races with an incredible flying Superpole lap. This makes eleven poles for Spies, and gives him the record for most poles in a season ever in World Superbike to add to his other records already smashed this year. The American rider had a clear strategy for the three Superpole heats, coming out for just one lap in the first to qualify fifth for the second session with a 1’43.532.
He then switched to a qualifier for the second heat and immediately dropped below the 1.43 mark to put in an astonishing 1’42.568, nearly eight tenths of a second faster than the previous lap record held by Troy Bayliss in 2008. Having moved through to the final heat, Spies then made it clear he was here to win this weekend, using his second qualifier to smash his own record, setting pole with an incredible 1’42.412. Spies had spent the earlier qualifying and free practice sessions working quietly on the set up of his race bike, holding out for the Superpole to reveal the Yamaha’s balance and turn of speed.
Yamaha World Superbike rider Tom Sykes continued to struggle today with his shoulder injury. The British rider bravely battled on despite being in serious pain and discomfort, but was unable to translate his efforts into a fast consistent lap time on what is a very physical track. He will start tomorrow’s two races from 21st on the grid.
Ben Spies, Yamaha World superbike Team (1st ,1’42.412)
“Getting the Superpole record is cool, it’s one of those things that one day I’ll look back on and enjoy, however right now I just see it as track position for me. I’ve got no other goals but to gain further help for my race tomorrow. We saw Haga struggle a little bit today but I’m sure Ducati will work it out quickly. We’re just going to put it together tomorrow and see what happens. We’ve not wanted to show our pace until Superpole, then we pinned it and got some good laps in. We’ve got some other things to work on for race day and hopefully we can tie it down some more.”
Tom Sykes, Yamaha World Superbike Team (21st, 1’44.978)
“We tried a number of things today to get myself comfortable, I’ve spent a lot of time in the Clinica Mobile, hats off to them they are working really hard to patch me up. It seems I need more time to recover from the injury properly though. I’m really sorry for the Yamaha World superbike Team. To end this way is not ideal for me, It’s not how I wanted to repay them for a season of hard work, we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”
Massimo Meregalli, Yamaha World Superbike Team
“There are places where we can still improve on Ben’s bike so for sure tonight the guys will try to find some solutions to make him more comfortable, hopefully we’ll see positive results from that in the morning warm up. Tom unfortunately missed the Superpole session but I was expecting something like that today as he has been in a lot of pain. I know what he’s feeling so all I can say is that he’s trying really hard.”