Exiting the final fourth-gear, 120-mph corner at the Algarve circuit in Portimao, Portugal – strapped to a 200-plus-horsepower Yamaha YZF-R1
World Superbike, bars twitching and snapping, the rear tire spinning and bucking, all while climbing up the completely blind and massive front straightaway – two things suddenly become crystal clear: Ben Spies
’ championship-winning SBK isn’t for sissies, and it just plain doesn’t get any better than that! This truly is Livin’ the Dream…
Ben Spies' Sterilgarda Yamaha YZF-R1.
But before we dive into the details of the Sterilgarda R1 Superbike, let’s back up a few steps…to the beginning. You might be wondering why I am lucky enough to be halfway around the world at one of the top racetracks on the planet riding such an utterly priceless machine. Well, the long and short of it is Infront Sports is bloody mad – and thank goodness! To break it down, they are the rights holder and organizers of World Superbike and have set up an annual test for a select few journalists (less than 20 worldwide) to ride not one, but all seven of the factory World Superbikes the Monday following the final round of the championship. And, you guessed it, MotoUSA was invited. To say I jumped on that invite quickly would be the understatement of the century – my RSVP was telepathically emailed back before I even received the email.
Protocol for the test was to get 15 minutes on each bike, with a 20-minute break between machines. Quick turnaround was the name of the game as we had seven bikes to ride in one day. Complicating things slightly was the fact I had never so much as turned a lap around the track on anything but a scooter. Some serious time was spent playing Xbox and studying on-board laps on YouTube … and, surprisingly, I was up to speed in no time. Amazingly, the video game really did help – a lot!
Anyhow, enough BS, time for the good stuff: Here’s our take on the seven factory bikes which made up the 2009 World Superbike
grid, compiled in the order in which we rode them.