Sterilgarda Yamaha‘s Ben Spies is ready for whatever comes his way this weekend in Portimao.
In today’s qualifying session, where the top ten riders were separated by only 0.538 seconds, Ben Spies ended Day One of the WSB showdown at Portimao in third place. With the title set to go down to the wire on Sunday, Spies is under immense pressure to perform, but maintains he hasn’t lost any sleep over the title showdown in the last three weeks.
“People would say stuff like this to take the pressure off, but this is honestly the most relaxed I’ve been all year. I had Chaz (Davies) at my house last week, hanging out and doing some cycling. I’ve just been doing my own thing and I’ve not been worrying about the title. I’ve been in this position before where I’ve got to win and Nori really hasn’t.
“OK they are not World Superbike titles, but I’ve won and lost titles like this. The way I see it is that I’ve got to go out there and do the best job I can. I know I’ve got to win both races. It’s my first year, whereas Nori’s had a lot of chances, so the way I see it is that it’s mine to win and his to lose.”
Rea poised to be fly in the ointment
Jonathan Rea looks like he could be the man to get in the way of Ben Spies and Noriyuki Haga’s WSB title fight by setting the fastest lap time in the opening qualifying session at Portimao. Rea made his WSB debut at the Portuguese track at the end of 2008, but after a full year on the bike and a mid-season switch from WP to Ohlins suspension, it revealed that his current package has improved dramatically.
“The bike feels so much better compared to the first time I rode it here this time last year. Back then it was really difficult to set a quick one-of time, whereas today I’ve got pole with an OK lap and it’s been easy. Our bike is good now and I’m looking forward to tomorrow and the two races,” he said.
Despite losing ground in the overall championship standings, Rea remains focused on reclaiming fourth place from Aprilia man Max Biaggi. Rea currently sits 14 points behind the Italian legend.
Representatives from the American Jordan Suzuki team were seen cruising the WSB paddock at Portimao today. If the rumors are to be believed, they are here evaluating the options of running a different manufacturer in 2010. The hot tip is BMW, but it remains unclear if the German manufacturer has the resources or the desire to enter a team outside of the World Superbike paddock so early into their Superbike program.
John Hopkins was back in the WSB paddock for the first time since his horrific crash at Nurburgring in September where he was hit by another rider. In the crash, Hopkins suffered bleeding on the brain and was ruled out of action for the remainder of the season. The 26-year-old American has been linked to a return to America and is also in contact with Aprilia in WSB. Other rumors have Hopper sticking with the Stiggy Honda team in 2010.
Despite being a target for the Aprilia WSB team, Alex De Angelis appears keen to stay in the MotoGP paddock to race in the Moto2 class. De Angelis was believed to be at the top of Aprilia’s list, ahead of stand-in rider and BSB champions Leon Camier and Shane Byrne. The list reportedly includes Hopkins now.