Spies Does It!

Cycle News Staff | February 28, 2009
 Ben Spies just proved to the world what Americans already knew: He’s one tough motorcycle racer. In just the second World Superbike race of his career, Spies withstood the constant pressure of seasoned-veteran Noriyuki Haga to score the race-two win today at Phillip Island in Australia.In winning today’s second race at Phillip Island, Spies became the first American to win a World Superbike race since fellow Texan Colin Edwards did so for the final time on September 29, 2002 in Italy. It was also the first victory for the new Yamaha R1.Spies crossed the line 1.2 seconds ahead of Haga after a race-long battle. Third place went to the surprising Leon Haslam, the young Brit some four seconds behind Spies and barely ahead of the hard-charging Regis Laconi. Haga’s teammate Michel Fabrizio faded from third in the final laps, getting passed by both Haslam and Laconi in the final two laps.Aprilia’s Max Biaggi looked to have a top three position early on and he was in the battle for third with two laps to go, but he had an off-track excursion and ended up 15th, ruining what would have been a stellar performance for the new Aprilia.Sixth place went to Alstare Suzuki’s Max Neukirchner, the German who barely lost out in a battle with Haga in race one. He finished just a few tenths ahead of Jakub Smrz. Two seconds behind them came Yukio Kagayama, the Suzuki man having finished third in the first race earlier in the day.Hannspree Ten Kate Honda’s Jonathan Rea and Spies’ Yamaha teammate Tom Sykes rounded out the top 10. Ruben Xaus gave the factory BMW an 11th-place finish.Fast from the start, Spies mixed it up with Haga for the duration. Initially it was Biaggi at the front, but Spies forged past on the opening lap to lead the way. He stayed in front until the sixth lap when Haga came past on the Xerox Ducati heading into turn one. Haga continued to lead with Biaggi, Fabrizio and Haslam tucked in behind the lead duo, with the top five covered by just 1.6 seconds on the seventh lap.Meanwhile, Laconi had fought his way through to sixth and was gaining ground on the lead quintet.It wasn’t until the 11th lap that Spies took to the front again, the Yamaha man diving under Haga in turn one. His lead lasted just a few more laps with Haga again taking the top spot on the 13th lap. But Spies wasn’t going anywhere. Ditto for Biaggi, Fabrizio, Haslam and now Laconi as 1.7 seconds covered the top six on lap 14.Spies would make the decisive move on the 19th lap, again with a big pass going into the fast right-hand turn one. And this time he put his head down, gapping Haga ever so slightly as those two were now clear of the pursuing pack. On the 20th lap, Spies led by .34 of a second. A lap later it was .7 of a second and at the finish it was 1.2 seconds.Haga is the championship points leader after the first round with 45 points. Neukirchner is second with 30, four points more than Haslam. Despite not scoring in the first race, Spies leaves Australia fifth in the points with 25 points, one more than Kagayama and Fabrizio – who are tied with 24 points.Race Two Results1.      Ben Spies (Yamaha)2.      Noriyuki Haga (Ducati)3.      Leon Haslam (Honda)4.      Regis Laconi (Ducati)5.      Michel Fabrizio (Ducati)6.      Max Neukirchner (Suzuki)7.      Jakub Smrz (Ducati)8.      Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki)9.      Jonathan Rea (Honda)10.  Tom Sykes (Yamaha)