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World Superbike Insider – Sunday

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ben Spies made the American crowd proud today in Utah.
There’s no doubt in my mind that someone at Suzuki is really kicking themselves now. What a mistake it was to lose Ben Spies. The talented young Texan once again proved Suzuki’s loss is Yamaha’s gain, and did so in a big way. He took Superpole, led every lap, set the new lap record and won both races today at Miller Motorsports Park just outside Salt Lake City, Utah.

This marked his sixth and seventh wins of the season, as well as his seventh-straight pole and second double-win weekend in his rookie year. While most knew he was talented and would do well, it’s doubtful most thought he would do this well. Especially considering this was the first track all season he has previously raced at. Just wait until next year when he’s seen them all…

But while it looked easy today, we caught up with the double-winner at the end of the day  and he said it was anything but.

“Michel Fabrizio was right there, not far back the whole race (two),” said Spies. “I knew he was going to be strong, but he was even better than I anticipated. I had to push the entire way so hats off to him. We had another gear we could have pulled out there at the end if needed but by no means was it easy. I actually got lucky there at the end when his tire went off cause I really didn't want to go there unless I had to.”
Haga had a tough weekend in Salt Lake City  which is exactly what Spies needed to chip away at his Championship lead.
Haga had a tough weekend in Salt Lake City.

On the other end of the spectrum was Haga, who toughed out the pain of a massive highside yesterday, one which put his back in knots, to finish down the order with a ninth in race one and eighth in race two. Still quite impressive finishes considering we saw the Japanese rider getting suiting up and his upper back looked like it had been run over by a dump truck. No doubt he rode through massive amounts of pain.

As such, Spies took a sizable chuck out of Haga’s massive pre-existing 88-point championship lead to cut it down to 53, as well as moved back in front of Fabrizio for second spot in the championship. And while 53 points is a lot, there’s still half a season left to go. Can the soft-spoken Texan come back and win the title in his rookie season? If he does it will be the biggest points’ deficit made back up in World Superbike history.

As for the rest of the American clan, Hacking had a great showing in the first race, although the red flag on lap 6 did hurt the Hacker. He had worked his way up to fourth after a great start and looked on pace for a possible podium, but a less-than-perfect start after the red flag saw him further back and having to claw his way through the field. At one point the always-aggressive Hacking collided with his own teammate for the weekend Broc Parkes, not making any friends en route to an impressive seventh-place finish. Parkes would retire shortly after from a broken shifter…

Race two then saw Hacking and his teammate Parkes both have trouble off the line, coming across the stripe for the first time at the very back of the field. Once again Hacking was on a terror, muscling his way through the field, though he collided again with another Kawasaki, this one piloted by privateer Italian Luca Scassa. Both riders ran off track and Scassa crashed heavily, with Hacking keeping it on two wheels. He would then run off again later in the race en route to finishing 19th.
Michael Jordan was in Utah to root for Spies and check out WSBK.
Michael Jordan was in Utah to root for Spies and check out WSBK.

The third and final American in the field, Jake Zemke, struggled to get to grips with the Stiggy Motorsports Honda CBR1000RR. Some said gearing issues plagued the team throughout the weekend, with the best finish Zemke could muster being a 15th in race two.

On a side note, there has been a lot of speculation floating around the paddock as to where Spies would be racing next year considering his amazing start to his rookie World Superbike season and the fact he only has a 1-year deal with Yamaha.

“I’m thinking about being a magazine writer,” he joked, “that sounds fun.”

In all seriousness he’s staying pretty tight lipped about it, though he has said they have begun talking to Yamaha that he’s quite happy with the brand and that his first choice, be it in MotoGP or World Superbike, would be to stay with Yamaha. Like I said, Suzuki’s loss has quickly become Yamaha’s gain.

The BMW team had a weekend to forget. While it was big news that the U.S. market got to see the S1000RR in the flesh for the first time, on track the boys from Munich didn’t fair very well. After qualifying 21st and 22nd, there wasn’t much they could do considering the current depth of the field.

“It’s just too tough when you start that far back,” said Corser, when we caught up with him between races. “We went better in that race than we did all practice, but it’s still not on the pace needed, especially if you are starting at the back of the grid.”
Attendance at Miller was lackluster at best.
Attendance was lackluster at best.

15th in race one was as good as the German team could muster at the hands of Corser, as they visibly struggled to get the massive power of the BMW-built engine to the ground. But as they say, it’s better to have too much power than not enough. Now they just need to learn to harness it and they should be a consistent contender.

To wrap things up, we must say, the crowd was pretty thin. Maybe it’s MMP’s fairly secluded location or maybe it’s the economy, either way it wasn’t impressive at all. They claim a weekend total of 47,000-plus, but from my point of view it didn’t look like much more than 10,000 or so today tops, and far less on Friday and Saturday, so I’m not quite sure where their numbers are coming from. It’s a shame too, as this could be the best racing series in the world right now and an American is running at the front week-in and week-out. Good thing SBK and Miller have agreed to extending the track's participation in the championship through the 2013 season...
2009 World Superbike Miller Gallery
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2009 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.
Noriyuki Haga Bio
The Samurai of Slide. "Nitro" Nori Haga has reached icon status with race fans around the globe. It all started with a pocket bike and from there, the rest is history.
2009 World Superbike Point Standings
 WSBK - After 7 of 14 Rounds

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Bill Hazelton -World Superbike Event at Millers  July 14, 2009 03:48 PM
I was lucky enough to live in Germany for 2 years and travel to many tracks around Europe. Many of them did not have great viewing of more than 4 corners. So watching a race over there wasn't as good as I expected it to be. At Millers having the WSB race the outer circut does cause viewing to be a challenge due to the distance. I still enjoyed the race but felt racing half the track probable would have added more excitment with traffic, or closer viewing. I also think WSB or Millers should listen to the fans on this. In the mid 90's I complain about watching racing at Daytona hugh track, But atleast there you could see 90% of it. Side Note-- Haga was nice enough to take time to sign autographs 2 hours after his big crash, THANKS HAGA
Chris -MMP WSBK 2013  June 9, 2009 06:02 PM
Was looking foreward to another great battle between Haga and Spies but it was not to be. Haga crashed hard but still gave it his all and Spies dominated. The supersport race was fantastic. MMP is about 30 min from the airport with lots of good hotels close by. Very easy to get in and out of. Great food, great weather, and a state of the art brand new facility. WSB will be held here till at least 2013 and I will not miss a race!
David -WSB MMP - Great race and Thumbs up to Ducati for putting on great hospitality  June 3, 2009 08:54 AM
I thought attendance was great especially for the second year of an event that only went to Laguna in the past. I know that on Sunday the grandstands on the front straight, Stansbury 1& 2, and Erda were packed and the fence was lined in all the action areas. The nice thing about MMP is that most of the track is visible from any grandstand so it is a good park for spectators. Most of the staff was helpful other than the guard on the clubhouse entry on Saturday and Sunday. Friday they allowed Ducati owners in that gate for Ducati Island parking but the other days turned us away without providing an alternative (found through other helpful staff. The Ducati Island had autograph sessions, nice displays, mechanic workshops, beautiful ladies in the fashion shows, drinks and snacks for Ducati Owners, and extremely high priced clothing. Except for the high price of Ducati merchandise it was a good time. I also was able to ride in the parade lap. I have to say that the track is long and entertaining. Fortunately for safety and unfortunately for fun we were restricted to about 50 MPH. Overall a nice touch provided by Ducati through their ticket package. Other groups were also on the parade lap but weren't given front row access. Good times.
Dwight in CT -Kudos to Miller  June 3, 2009 05:03 AM
I was very impressed with the whole package. Awesome facility, topnotch racing, everyone was great and SLC was a trip. My party flew all the way from Connecticut and we all had a great time. The highlight was the Spies smokeshow right in front of our grandstand after winning the second race! Make the effort to attend next year, you won't be disappointed.
Terry Hogue -Parking Egress at MMP  June 2, 2009 06:30 PM
Sunday afternoon after the final race upon returning to our vehicle, everything seemed to get jammed up with very little assistance and direction in vehicles returning to the main road from the parking areas near the main entrance to the park. You could not turn right out of the main entrance because it was blocked, forcing traffic only to the north. People were using both lanes, one-way each way to exit and forcing a wait of 20-30 minutes to just get in line to exit. Not much consideration and tempers were getting hot. I hope the situation can be handled better in future events.
Carlo P. -Hackings WSBK start at Miller  June 2, 2009 12:07 PM
Hi guys, unfortunately it was impossible for me to see the races at MMP live, because I´m far away in Germany. But I really like this racetrack an off course the performance of Jamie Hacking on the Kawasaki. It´s a pity that the frist race was stopped, while he was in 4th place...but that´s racing. But the reason I´´m writing is, that I cannot find any "good" picture of Hacking in action. Is there someone who can help, and tell me where I can find high res pictures of Jamie?
thewall -Run off at Miller?  June 1, 2009 08:48 PM
I'm so glad we have a WSBK stop here in the USA. I have to say though, will the course looked nice, the run off was a little alarming looking for this caliber of race. There seemed to be plenty of room but the ground looked uneven and bumpy and full of grass clumps. Nearly ever get off the rider and bike were tumbling harshly. Other courses on the circuit have what looks like nearly manicured run off areas and the riders and bikes seem to tumble way less and slow down much quicker when they run into it. I've never seen that track but that was my observation from a television point of view.
EWL -WSB attendance  June 1, 2009 07:13 PM
I was also seated at the turn 1 grandstands and it was relatively full. The people around me that I chatted with, who had been there last year (I wasn't) all said it was busier this year. Hopefully by 2013 it will be packed! I'll definitely make the drive down from Canada next year - what a great event!
Bill -RACE DAY  June 1, 2009 06:32 PM
Third year in a row attending MMP. I love this track. We had a blast watching just amazing racing. The weather was great, the track was great the racing was over the top. Why not more people? Go figure. Kudos to Miller motor park, first class all the way. See ya next year!!!
JR -MMP WSBK  June 1, 2009 12:19 PM
10 hr drive from Cali was ok Lew... the arizona mountain pass between NV and St. George, Utah was sick... the MMP atmosphere was laid back... the track and facility was way better than fontana...
Lew -Attendance, relatively speaking ...  June 1, 2009 10:23 AM
Miller is a long way from virtually anywhere in the US, where the European tracks are mostly within a couple of hours of massive population centers, so the comparison isn't exactly fair. Still, the numbers seem down from last year. Makes me wish I'd braved the 10 hours it would have taken to get there.
Tom -WSB attendance  June 1, 2009 08:37 AM
Judging from your picture Steve, the amount of spectators does look pretty sad. I was at turn 1 and the stands were pretty full along with people lining the fence. Miller is so huge though that I felt everything was miles apart.