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Spies Gets Up to Speed in World Superbike

Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Spies lets the champagne fly after a hard-fought double podium weekend in California. - Fontana
American Ben Spies was the king of AMA Superbike, but can the Texan conquer the World Superbike realm?
2009 Yamaha WSB riders Ben Spies and Tom Sykes enjoyed a successful two day test at Portimao with their new team. The riders used the time to develop both their relationships with their new team and also to make a start on the development of the all-new 2009 Yamaha YZF-R1 race bike.

Day one of testing was spent mostly riding the 2008 WSB machines, giving both riders the opportunity to learn the highly technical Portimao circuit which opened for the first time last weekend for the last round of the 2008 World Superbike Championship.

Day two saw the riders lapping on the all-new for 2009 Yamaha WSB R1. The new 998cc bike, featuring a high tech powerplant closely linked to the M1 MOTOGP bike, is currently at the very beginning of its development for the 2009 WSB season and is still relatively close to production specifications. However with the 2009 production R1 crossplane crankshaft engine and a unique uneven firing order giving linear torque and greater traction rider Ben Spies was able to come within two tenths of the race lap record set by Troy Bayliss during the inaugural race weekend two days previously. In a validation of the team's belief in the potential of the new bike both riders put in fast lap times, Ben Spies lapping consistently in the low 1.44s on the second day.

The Yamaha WSB team now move on to South Africa for the second test to take the next steps in the development of the bike.

So far the team's minor modifications to the standard bike include a modified cam-shaft, an enlarged radiator for extra cooling and the addition of an oil cooler. The new bike has no rear sub-frame but incorporates a strengthened frame. The exhaust is unique, and was developed in partnership with Akrapovic. The standard fuel tank has also been replaced with an aluminium tank with increased capacity. The bike features the latest Magneti Marelli electronic systems. The new swing arm is also developed purely for the WSB race bike based on knowledge taken from the 2008 racing season.

Ben Spies (1'43.9)
"The whole Superbike weekend has been great for me. Having my own crew chief here from the US joining the team is good, he really understands me and it's great to see him working well with the Yamaha Motor Italia Technical Chief Silvano Galbusera. Getting out on Nori's bike we made a couple of changes and got going, it answered a lot of questions for me on the different tyre manufacturer and riding new circuits. The 2009 bike is at the beginning of its development, but for where it's at now compared to where we will be when we line up at Philip Island it's hugely exciting. The team worked really hard on the bike this weekend and it's just going to get better and better. I'm really looking forward to next year."

Tom Sykes (1'44.5)
"For me it's been a very good test. Having done two days I now feel fully part of the team. It was quite difficult arriving on Tuesday morning for the 1st day of the test, facing a new bike, a new circuit, and a new team. It was important to me to get it right from the start. We are developing well together and we have a good understanding. I was very happy with my time on the 2008 bike, and happy with a good race pace. For the 2009 bike, considering it's at a very early stage of development, I think it's a fantastic package. The feeling coming out of the corner is unbelievably smooth, the power is so controllable, the whole bike remains incredibly stable. There is still lots to be done but the outcome is already very good. All in all it was a great weekend for me, I was really happy to get started and learning, getting on with the new team and feeling part of it."

Yamaha Motor Italia Team Manager Massimo Meregalli said, "As a first test, I think it went very well. We didn't have any problems and both riders did a very good job. The test gave us a very good feeling because the bike is very good now and we know how we can improve it even more, there is still a big gap to where we can get to, so we are just very happy. Everything went very well with the riders and the team, there's no better way to end a test for us, we are very excited about the next stage."
2008 World Superbike Gallery
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World Superbike Rider Bios
Ben Spies Bio
Entering 2010, after capturing the World Superbike title in 2009, Spies jumps up to race in the MotoGP series full-time alongside fellow Texan Colin Edwards.
Troy Bayliss Bio
After replacing the injured Fogarty at the start of the 2000 season, Troy Bayliss had emerged as one of the most dominant riders the World Superbike championship has ever seen.

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CLOWN -Ben Vs Nori !!!  December 10, 2008 10:31 PM
I'm looking forward to it.It's going to be an exciting season,some great racing for sure.Congratulations to Troy Bayliss.
Ben -Ben Spies in World Superbike  November 9, 2008 11:42 AM
I wanted him to go to Moto GP, but not on a subpar Suzuki. At least this will give me someone to root for in WSB. That is along with Josh Hayes and hopefully Jake Zemke.
Radek Kubat -WSBK growth  November 7, 2008 09:22 AM
I welcome Ben and Tom to Yamaha WSB team and by this early results I can say they will be very successful. Linking the technical knowhow form the Yamaha M1 to the R1 will take yamaha onto new level. I'm actually very suprised by the early pace of the new R1, reminds me when Ducati tested the 1098R. But comparing Ben to Rossi is not something I want to do as none can have the magic Rossi does posses. Still Ben is the best choice to Yamaha WSB team. Who will win Ben or Haga?
R1racer Ru12? -Ben in GP  November 7, 2008 07:36 AM
While I agree that Ben will do very well in WSB, I think it was a good decision to stay away from GP for awhile... Nicky came up just as fast thru the AMA ranks and he has won 3 races in 6 years of GP racing... Dani, Casey, and ESPECIALLY Rossi are in a league of their own...
Tessier -Why no Moto GP  November 7, 2008 05:58 AM
So why is Ben in world super bike and not Moto GP? I saw him and was impressed at Indy so it's really surprising to see that no one picked him up for there GP program!
Vieira4 -agree in writing?  November 6, 2008 04:05 PM
Jimbo your boy might be good but he would be lucky to finish in the top 5 more than once in MotoGP - haha agree in writing im LMFAO!
Jimbolaya -WSB interest is increased  November 6, 2008 01:09 PM
For unknown reasons I always rooted more for Matt Mladin. Previously my interest in WSB was generally low. Now that Ben has moved to WSB I intend to root heartily for him & hopefully watch him bring home the crown. Then off to be tutored by Rossi for a year in MotoGP. Ben would probably be required to agree in writing to acrue LESS points than Rossi at least the first year. Then Ben can start winning multiple MotoGP crowns & see if he can break any of Rossi's records.
Fan of Spies -He's going to do well  November 6, 2008 05:19 AM
I really think Ben has the capability of doing well where ever he goes. I mean take a long look at his history record. 3 AMA Superbike titles in a row, top 10 finish in Moto GP all three times, now running race pace on an early development prototype. I have to say he has got skills. But time will only tell.