News 26 Oct 2009

WSBK: Spies wins Yamaha's first title after Portimao thriller


Ben Spies and Yamaha made history today, claiming the first ever Word Superbike title for the Yamaha World Superbike Team. In yet another Ben Spies Masterclass of riding, The American rookie sensation took a race win and a well executed fifth place finish to lift the title for Yamaha for the first time. Race one saw a textbook performance from Spies, taking the holeshot on the first corner and leading from the first lap. Perfectly executed lines and smooth riding saw him cross the line nearly two seconds ahead of a determined Biaggi who had stalked him for the entire race. Championship rival Noriyuki Haga crashed out six laps into the race, leaving Spies some breathing room for race two.

With the extra points behind him and less pressure for an outright race win Spies kept himself in check for race two, monitoring Haga’s position and keeping a steady race pace as he counted the laps down to victory. The American let a couple of riders passed then tucked in behind Biaggi for a number of laps. After the Italian rider ran wide a couple of times, Spies turned on some extra speed to pass him and brought his championship winning Yamaha R1 home in fifth place to take victory.

Spies can now claim 14 Superbike race wins and 11 pole position race starts in his rookie year, breaking all records since the championship began. He leads the standings with 462 points, six clear of rival Haga.

Yamaha World Superbike rider Tom Sykes unfortunately missed out on the last two races of the 2009 Championship. The British rider continues to struggle with an injury sustained to the Labrum in the shoulder socket following a collision with Carlos Checa at the previous round in Magny Cours. Sykes gave 100% effort in the early riding sessions of the weekend but struggled to cope with the very physical Portimao circuit. The Yamaha Superbike Team expressed disappointed not to have been able to end their one year relationship with Tom on a high note, but supported his decision not to ride, putting riders safety and health first.

Ben Spies, Yamaha World Superbike Team, (1st, 5th)
” I’ve got to thank Yamaha for giving me the bike I need to win. We had a really good first race, in the second we did what we had to do to win. It was quite difficult to keep it in check as the pace was pretty fast, I saw I had a couple of people behind me and I knew that if Nori won I had to be in sixth and that’s where I was so I tried to get a bit of a gap on them and stay out of trouble. Max came through the inside of me and ran off a couple of times which really freaked me out so I went to get past him and then settled in for some nice fast laps to the end. It’s been a spectacular day and I can’t thank those people enough that have been behind me. It’s been incredible to do it for Yamaha, and especially in my first year here. I don’t think I really realize what’s happening right now but I’m sure it’s going to hit me in a couple of days!”

Tom Sykes, Yamaha World Superbike Team
“We came here this weekend aware of the injury but still looking to give it everything and end the season on a high. Unfortunately further x-rays yesterday at the Clinica Mobile revealed a potential crack in the bone which riding is aggravating further. I’m not able to ride to my best ability so unfortunately for my health needed to sit out the last two races. I’m very disappointed for the team as I wanted to repay them for the hard work they have put in for me all year.”

Massimo Meregalli, Yamaha World Superbike Team Manager
“I feel great! This is the first time I’ve had this victory feeling. I was so nervous for this whole weekend. Ben showed us that the speed he had was ok but I know Nori very well and Ducati as well so I was always worried that something was going to come. Fortunately we finished very well. I want to thank everyone, not just the people here in the team and Yamaha but the people at home, mine and the team’s families, they give us a lot of support and are patient, I think it is hard for them to so thank you to my wife!”

Laurens Klein Koerkamp, Racing Manager, Yamaha Motor Europe
“A fantastic day for Yamaha! Today was the crown of a year’s hard work for Ben and the team. From the first moment we started to work with Ben it was clear he was something special. He did an amazing job in his rookie season, not knowing many of the circuits in Europe. This victory is also very well deserved for the team who have given 100%. I know how hard we have all been trying and coming close for such a long time. This championship success is a clear testimonial of the competitiveness of the new R1 and a validation of Yamaha’s vision of production bike development and so is also shared with the engineers in Japan.”