Ben Spies improved his championship hopes with a dominating double victory performance at Utah’s Miller Motorsports Park.
American Ben Spies made the Miller Motorsports Park fans proud, posting the double at the lone U.S. World Superbike round. The Texan took the win in a fashion that was quite familiar his former AMA Superbike days at Miller – a hard-charging flag to flag win. Giving Spies his only real challenge in the race was factory Ducati rider Michel Fabrizio, who tallied an impressive second. Honda satellite rider Jonathan Rea scored the final podium position, followed by Aprilia’s Max Biaggi.
Ben Spies used his pole position start to the best effect, scoring the holeshot. Following the Spies around the first lap was Ducati’s Fabrizio, Honda’s Carlos Checa and the championship points-leading Noriyuki Haga.
As expected Spies started to open a gap, while HANNspree Ten Kate’s Rea moved up into fourth right behind his teammate Checa. As for American Jamie Hacking, he and teammate Broc Parkes ran into early troubles, the Kawasakis back in the pack.
Up toward the front Checa crashed out while running third. Hacking went off track too, taking fellow Kawasaki pilot, Luca Scassa, with him on Lap 5. The leader, Spies, was two seconds ahead of Fabrizio, with a seven-rider battle for third, with Rea leading the group ahead of Aprilia’s Max Biaggi.
At the halfway mark, the front positions were static, except for Ten Kate’s Ryuichi Kiyonari, who moved into fifth. Yet Fabrizio refused to let Spies run away up front – keeping within 2 seconds of the leader. Like Race 1, Haga, began falling back as the laps wore on – the Japanese rider seemingly fatigued from his qualifying crash and Race 1 performance.
As Spies began to slightly pull away from Fabrizio, the best racing on the track was over the final rostrum position. Rea led, with fellow Brit and Honda rider Haslam in the mix, as well as Kyonari, Biaggi, Ducati privateer Jakub Smrz and Haga.
In the closing laps, Spies motored ahead with Fabrizio unable to catch – with the American garnering his seventh SBK victory in his impressive rookie season. The spirited battle over third continued right into the final lap. Rea held onto three spot, with Biaggi finishing fourth a beneficiary of Haslam’s unfortunate last lap crash.
Spies’ victory further cuts the points deficit to 53 on Haga, still a comfortable two-race advantage for the Japanese rider but the American gained 32 points on his home turf. The other big change in the points chase is Rea’s ascension to top Honda rider, overtaking Haslam, whose costly Race 2 DNF has dropped the British rider to sixth overall, one spot behind Biaggi.
The World Superbike paddock will take a two-week break before picking up the action in Round 8 at Misano.
World Superbike Salt Lake Race 2 Results:
1. Ben Spies (Yamaha)
2. Michel Fabrizio (Ducati)
3. Jonathan Rea (Honda)
4. Max Biaggi (Aprilia)
5. Ryuichi Kiyonari (Honda)
6. Jakub Smrz (Ducati)
7. Shinya Nakano (Aprilia)
8. Noriyuki Haga (Ducati)
9. Tom Sykes (Yamaha)
10. Shane Byrne (Ducati)
11. Broc Parkes (Kawasaki)
12. Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki)
13. Fonsi Nieto (Suzuki)
14. Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati)
15. Jake Zemke (Honda)
19. Jamie Hacking (Kawasaki)
DNF Leon Haslam (Honda)
DNF Carlos Checa (Honda)
2009 SBK Championship Points:
1. Haga 265
2. Spies 212
3. Fabrizio 201
4. Rea 133
5. Biaggi 126
6. Haslam 122
7. Sykes 113
8. Kiyonari 96
9. Checa 93
10. Smrz 82
World Superbike Salt Lake Race 2 Podium Quotes:
Ben Spies – Yamaha – 1st: “That was a tough race, I almost feel like I robbed Michel because he rode fantastic. I tried to set a good pace but a pace that was comfortable and every time he took a tenth out I had to put a tenth back to keep him at bay. Then in the last six laps I pulled the pin and held it to the end. It’s good to get a double win here, unfortunately we know Haga’s not 100% but you’ve got to capitalize on the weekend and we made up some points.”
Michel Fabrizio – Ducati – 2nd: “It was a good weekend, I tried every way possible until five or six laps from the end to give some problems to Ben but in my attempt to catch up to him I pusher a bit too hard and finished the front tyre so there was nothing I could do.”
Jonathan Rea – Honda – 3rd: “The guys have put a great bike under me this weekend, we’ve done some good development, but I’ve never had to race as slow as I could for third place because I had a few problems with the front and the front tyre. Ben and Michel put on a great run at the front, I couldn’t go with them. I could see a big gaggle of riders behind me, and thought I’d keep something in reserve until the end but I couldn’t see what happened with Leon’s crash. Anyway it was my second podium in two rounds so I’m very happy.”
World Superbike Salt Lake Post-Race Rider Quotes:
Ben Spies – Yamaha World Superbike Team – 1st, 1st
“We’ve been working on our starts a little bit and with such a long straight we needed one. The first race was pretty comfortable for me, it’s a great track if you can get out in front and get into a rhythm. It was a tough race in race two, I almost feel like I robbed Michel of a win he rode so well. I tried to set a good pace but also a pace that was comfortable. In the last six laps I just pulled the pin and gave it everything we could. The pace was extremely fast and it was a great race. It’s great to get a double win here, unfortunately we all know Haga is not 100% but you got to capitalize on the weekends when you can. I think Misano is going to be another track the R1 is going to excel it so we’re going to go over there with an open mind and see what we can get away with.”
Michel Fabrizio – Ducati Xerox – 3rd, 2nd
“Well Race 1 was quite hard, because after the restart I felt like a ping-pong ball, there were three or four guys coming at me from all directions causing me to lose some positions. I had to push hard to pass them again and it wasn’t easy but my desire to be up on the podium gave my the strength I needed and so I’m happy with the result. In the second race I got away well and did all I could to stick with Ben out front. The gap between us was about 1.5 seconds and I pushed hard to close it up, perhaps too hard, because in the last laps my front tire was finished and I couldn’t do more to catch him. Ben was really strong today so I can’t complain that I didn’t win. I take away 36 valuable points and now we head to Misano where I’d like to be back up on the top step of the podium.”
Jonathan Rea – Hannspree Ten Kate Honda – 5th, 3rd
“I made a change between races with the front tire, upping the pressure a bit it wasn’t the right way to go. I didn’t have as much grip on the way into corners, but the bike has improved in terms of the throttle connection so I concentrated on making the most of the power on the exit of the corners, and that was how I stayed in front. Getting a podium was good for the team and we have definitely made real improvements. Every lap I was watching the big screen out of the last turn to see who it was behind me. I knew I had a little bit of a gap, but for me I had to ride as slow as I could for third place. We’ve been on the podium now two weeks on the run, so it’s almost enough for us.”
Carlos Checa – Hannspree Ten Kate Honda – 2nd, DNF
“Race one was good, after all that has happened earlier this year, and despite my crash in race two we can leave here with everything being positive. We made progress and were on the pace and now we have a test in France to keep working, and be fast in Misano. In race two maybe I went in with too much angle and hit the curbstone at the top of the hill, and that curb is so high, we already complained about it last year. It was a shame because I knew I had good pace for the second race as well.”
Ryuichi Kiyonari – Ten Kate Honda Racing – 4th, 5th
“I got a good start to the second part of race one and took the holeshot I think, but I had a problem with the tire which was the same in race two. It was spinning on the rim and made rear grip a real problem in both races. We decided to go with the softer tire after warm-up but we hadn’t had a chance to do any longer runs with it. It was OK for the first couple of laps but then the problems started. It’s very disappointing but I guess the results are not so bad, and a lot better than last time at Kyalami.”
Noriyuki Haga – Xerox Ducati – 9th, 8th
“I did not have a very good feeling with my bike in Race 1. It was very hot out there and I can’t say I was having an easy time. We changed the setting a little for the second race but I still wasn’t able to fight for the podium despite the fact that it was only a few seconds out of grasp. Unfortunately many riders were just stronger then me today. I am not 100% of course after my crash yesterday and I didn’t expect to win here today but I am happy to have taken points all the same, important points for the championship. I’ll get back in shape before Misano where I want to be back fighting for the win.”
Jamie Hacking – Kawasaki World Superbike – 7th, 19th
“I’ve obviously had some experience at Miller before and some good results in the past on the Kawasaki so I was hoping coming into this weekend that the bike would be good and I was really happy that we were pretty fast from the start. I’ve not ridden on Pirelli tires before and also I had to get used to the electronics but I was really happy to complete all three Superpole sectors and to start on row two next to Broc. I got a decent start in race two and was feeling really good on the bike and in a comfortable fourth place before the red flag came out but a seventh in the re-start was good. Race two I had an incident on the first corner as I had more entry speed than some of the guys around me and someone ran into me so I couldn’t turn in so had to make my way out of the pack to try and save the bike. Having not raced with these guys I’m unfamiliar how some of them ride so I was really disappointed that this happened. I’d like to have had a solid race result in race two but it wasn’t to be, I just hope that I get the opportunity to come back and show my true potential.”
Tom Sykes – Yamaha World Superbike Team – 13th, 9th
“We still had some issues with the bike today and obviously the starting position didn’t help matters much. We got off the line fairly well in race one but got boxed in on turn one and lost position a bit. A difficult first race but the red flag helped me re start further up the grid and I managed to run some consistent race times. For race two we made a bit more of a change and found another half a second which was good and had a good start. In the first lap I came from 22nd to 14th which was pretty good. Overall it’s been quite a difficult weekend with a couple of things but the team and I have sat down and put our heads together and we’ve made a drastic improvement to the set up and the way we work, we’re going to be stronger as a team and I’m confident I can now repay the team and deliver the goods.”
Yukio Kagayama – Suzuki Alstare Brux – 12th, 12th
“I am very sore and very tired after these races today. I had pain-killing injections in my right foot and that allowed me to race. Once I was on the bike, the pain was not so great, but what did hurt was my shoulder, back and thigh. Now I want a good, long rest! “In race one, I began to get a better feeling with the bike after about seven or eight laps and the tire was working OK as well. It was difficult changing direction, because of my right foot, and going through the chicanes was also a bit of a problem, but I wanted to finish the race and so kept going. I had some more injections before the start of the second race, but I didn’t make such a good start and was 17th at the end of the first lap. My bike also had some chattering from the rear end and I couldn’t push hard. It was very tough and physical today, but I’m happy I managed to finish both races today.”
Leon Haslam – Stiggy Racing Honda – 10th, DNF
“It has obviously been a bit of a disappointing day for us, finishing the first race in tenth position and then taking a DNF in the second one. I rode really well in the second race, and I should have been in third place here. As I tried to make a pass on Rea, I hit the kerb and ended up on the gravel. I am disappointed with my results, but then again, the pace I have been running and everything else is working just fine. We have a few more issues that we will have to work on for the next round, but fingers crossed we should be at the rostrum every weekend from now on. I am feeling very good with the bike and what it can do, so bring on Misano.”
Broc Parkes – Kawasaki World Superbike – DNL, 11th
“It’s my first time here at Miller so when I walked the track on Thursday I was really happy to see that it’s a track that I like with big open and flowing corners. I was really happy to get through all three Superpole sessions and start from the second row on the grid. I got good starts in both races but in the first race we had a few issues with tires and then I had to pull out of the race with an electrical problem on the final lap. In race two we changed the tires but I was hit in the first corner so I was dead last so had to try and claw my way back to a decent position as the bike was the best it’s felt all weekend. Our times showed that we could have easily sustained a position in the top eight so I’m a bit disappointed that the results this weekend didn’t reflect how good the team and the bike have been.”
Fonsi Nieto – Suzuki Alstare Brux – 16th, 13th
“Every time I go out on the bike, I understand it more and the feeling gets better. I was happy to get into Superpole this weekend and that shows that I am improving all the time. I have been out of racing for seven months, so I have to get back up to race pace again, but now that I am beginning to get more comfortable with the bike, it’s all getting better and better. Francis Batta has given me this great opportunity and I want to repay his faith, and that of the team, by continuing to improve and get better results.”
Troy Corser – BMW Motorrad Motorsport – 15th, 17th
“There’s no disguising that this has been a hard weekend for us all here at Miller. Although we had some difficulties during the weekend, my main problem today was my right shoulder. I damaged the ligament between the shoulder and the collarbone in the Monza crash and it has not recovered yet. Race one was hard enough, but I just ran out of strength in race two and had a hard time keeping going. Every time I braked or changed direction, I felt that there wasn’t enough strength to move the bike and that tired me out. I also had some problems with the tire moving on the rim in race two and that didn’t help us either. Since Monza, the bikes have been on the road (well plane actually) to Kyalami and then on to USA, so it’ll be good to get them back to the workshops, analyse what’s been going on and then make the right improvements. Hard work for sure, but I’ve no doubt we’ll get there.”
Jake Zemke – Stiggy Racing Honda – 18th, 15th
“The biggest problem I had in qualifying was with turning in the middle of the corners, but we improved it in race one and then again in race two and we got a point because of it. Obviously I have to thank the team and John Hopkins for getting this opportunity, and we made some progress, so I wish the team success for the rest of the season.”
Ruben Xaus – BMW Motorrad Motorsport – 21st, 16th
“We didn’t think that this season would be easy, but perhaps today was harder then it should’ve been. Of course we began the races from the last rows of the grid and that made life difficult. Towards the end of the first race my lap times were consistent and good and pretty close to the guys fighting for top ten places. My bike didn’t feel right in race one, but it felt better in race two, but my grid position held me up. Between race one and race two my mechanics did a superb job by changing engines in such a short time and I want to thank them for the good and fast work – especially because the bike ran perfectly.”
Tommy Hill – Honda Athea Racing – DNF, DNF
“I hurt my left foot in a crash and had two sets of X-rays which proved inconclusive. After discussion with the team we decided not to race.”