The following is from Ben Spies’ publicist…Ben Spies earned the pole today for Sunday’s Dutch round of the World Superbike Championship by turning a Superbike record qualifying time of 1:37.626. Spies clocked in at an average speed of 104.38 mph, riding the factory Yamaha R1 on the historic 4.5 kilometer (2.8 miles), 17-turn TT Circuit. The 24-year-old series rookie from Texas remains perfect – four for four – in winning pole positions in 2009.Spies is a newcomer to Assen, but again he’s proving to be a quick learner on the challenging world championship circuits. He talked a bit about his success at getting the tracks down quickly.”Fortunately with two hours each day we have plenty of time to learn them,” said Spies, whose record Superpole time was faster than last year’s qualifying record of 1:38.428 set by Troy Bayliss. “I’m forced to pick up these tracks quickly so I have a chance to maybe put a little pressure on [Noriyuki] Haga. The bike is getting better and better, so that’s helping a lot.”Spies edged second-place qualifier Czech Jakub Smrz by a scant 14/100ths of a second.Spies crashed in the free practice before Superpole, but was unhurt in the incident.”I messed up in turn one,” Spies admitted. “I got in hot and thought to myself, ‘I should probably just go straight here,’ but at the last second I tried to make the turn and lost the front. It was no big deal. I got up, brushed the bike off and kept going.”After his practice slip Spies didn’t show his speed early on in Superpole qualifying. He finished 14th in Superpole 1, barely advancing to the next round.”A lot of riders used their Qs [qualifying tires] in the first session and we didn’t,” Spies explained. “I was on a race tire, that combined with the fact that I never really put together a good lap in the first session, gave me a little stress there for a second, but we were able to sneak it in there to keep going to the next round. Once we were in the second session I knew we’d be OK.”The Texan stormed back in Superpole 2 to top the charts. Finally in Superpole 3 the race for the pole was down to the top eight riders. Again Spies didn’t show his hand early and it wasn’t until the final minutes of the session that he moved once again to the top of the timing charts to earn his fourth Superpole of the year.”I went on the track with six minutes to go and watched to see what everyone else was doing” Spies explained. “I actually set my fast time on the second lap and then the tires went off just a bit. It was a good day, other than one small mistake in practice.”The lap times are obviously slower on the race tires, but I’m comfortable with our set up and am looking forward to going out there tomorrow and see how we fare.”The Three-time American Superbike Champion is eager to get back on a winning track after a subpar outing in the most recent World Superbike event.”It was good to get back on the track and do well this weekend after having a miserable round at Valencia,” Spies said. “It’s still early in the championship, but it’s time to start turning up the pressure and going for it.”In the U.S. both rounds of the World Superbike Championship from Assen can be watched back to back tomorrow, Sunday, April 25, on Speed TV starting at 3:00 p.m. Eastern.Ben Spies is sponsored by Yamaha, HJC, Alpinestars, Specialized and Parts Europe.The following is from Ducati…The Ducati Xerox riders Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio today completed the fourth Superpole of the 2009 Superbike season and secured themselves solid positions on the front rows of tomorrow’s grid.In the second qualifying session, which took place on a relatively cool track this morning, both Noriyuki and Michel were able to greatly improve on the times they set yesterday to qualify for the Superpole in second (Nori) and fifth position (Michel). The two factory riders both seemed more comfortable on board their Ducati 1198 bikes today although lack of grip remained something of an issue.In the last five minutes of the afternoon free practice session Nori took a fall, losing the front, which came as a surprise even to him. The factory rider was fortunately unhurt and although the bike suffered damage Nori’s team worked flat out to have the second bike ready for the Superpole which started just twenty minutes later. The two Ducati Xerox factory riders then calculated the Superpole sessions well, both using the two available qualifying tyres in the second and third mini-Superpoles, and both registering a fastest lap time of 1m38.2s to ensure themselves the fourth (Nori) and fifth spot (Michel) on tomorrow’s grid. Privateer outfit Team Guandalini were also satisfied to see their rider Smrz, on board his Ducati 1098R, finish second in today’s Superpole.Noriyuki Haga 1m38.2s
“Unfortunately at the end of the free practice session I came off; I lost the front for no particular reason gong into the corner which was a bit of a surprise but anyway I wasn’t hurt and it did not affect my performance in Superpole. I’m not so happy with the level of grip but I think that it is something that we can resolve in the morning. We will see tomorrow in the warm-up. For the tyres there is only one option for tomorrow so we are sorted there. I can tell that tomorrow we’ll have two tough races as the times are all very close but I feel we are in a position to fight to win both.”Michel Fabrizio 1m38.2s
“The second qualifying tyre that I used during the Superpole, in the last session, had a bit more grip with respect to the first but I didn’t feel right with the general set-up of the bike . We still ahven’t toally understood the problem but I wasn’t able to give 100% as it felt like I was opening the gas but the bike was drifting. Having said that I am on the second row tomorrow, and even though I hoped to be further forward, I guess I’m fairly satisfied.”The following is from Suzuki…Team Suzuki Alstare Brux rider Max Neukirchner just missed out on a front row grid place in Superpole and will start tomorrow’s pair of 22-lap races from row two of the grid. He was the fastest rider in Superpole 1, nearly four tenths of a second ahead of his nearest rival, but lapped two tenths of a second slower in Superpole 2 and eventually managed the sixth quickest time in Superpole 3.His team mate Yukio Kagayama suffered a crash in the free practice and had to use his number two bike in Superpole. The number two bike was set up slightly differently and Yukio was unable to qualify for Superpole 3, despite turning in a lap of 1:38.288 – a time that would’ve qualified him just off the front row. Instead he will start the races from the third row. American Ben Spies (Yamaha) continued his run of good form by taking pole position this afternoon, with Jakub Smrz (Ducati) second, Leon Haslam (Honda) third and Noriyuki Haga (Ducati) fourth.Max – 6th, 1:38.353
I think we are in good shape on race tyres and although the bike is not 100 per cent, it’s quite good. We’ve improved the bike since the last round in Valencia and if we can improve it a bit more, maybe we’d be able to risk using race rubber in Superpole 1 and keep our two qualifying tyres for Superpole 2 and 3. I had no big problems today, but we’ll try a little suspension change in the morning warm-up tomorrow and see if we can improve the bike. The track felt better today and I was also able to do some good practice starts, so I am pretty confident of being up with the leaders at the beginning. The start is important here because otherwise you get held up round the first three or so turns.Yukio – 9th, 1:38.288
This new Superpole system is a bit funny really, because I went faster than Max, but he’s on the second row of the grid and I am on the third! I was hoping to keep my position on the front row of the grid, but I crashed my number one bike in the free practice and had to use my number two bike in Superpole qualifying. It was set up a bit differently and I could not lap as confidently with it as my number one bike. There was no time to change the number two bike to the same settings as the number one bike, but we can do this OK for tomorrow. I am not sure why I crashed this afternoon. It was very sudden and I had no warning at all. My engineers will look at the data and then tell me if there was a problem or not. Fortunately I was not hurt at all, so I am in good condition for the races tomorrow. I need a podium!The following is from BMW…Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport continued to make progress in practice and regular qualifying today, but once again saw their hopes of good grid positions dashed in Superpole qualifying. All the good work done by Troy, Ruben and the team was undone in Superpole thanks to problems with their qualifying tyres in Superpole 1 and Superpole 2 and, as a result, Troy and Ruben will have to start tomorrow’s pair of 22-lap races from the fourth and fifth rows of the grid. American Ben Spies (Yamaha) continued his run of good form by taking pole position this afternoon, with Jakub Smrz (Ducati) second, Leon Haslam (Honda) third and Noriyuki Haga (Ducati) fourth.Troy – 15th, 1:38.906
Superpole was the usual lottery for me and I cannot explain why two qualifying tyres that are the same should work so differently. I did a 1:38.339 in Superpole 1 and was second fastest overall. I used the same bike and the same type of qualifying tyre in Superpole. The bike (or tyre) felt completely different and I just couldn’t go so fast at all. I finished six tenths of a second slower on that lap! it’s a big shame because it means, once again, we are way down the grid and will have to try and get up to the sharp end as soon as we can if we are to have any sort of decent result. The good news is that I am feeling quite comfortable on a race pace and the other good news is that my hand feels a lot better today – probably because of some treatment from the Clinica Mobile and some painkillers.Ruben – 20th, 1:39.643
Like Troy, I am finding it a bit hard to understand what is going on with the qualifying tyres. I qualified OK for Superpole and started Superpole 1 with a qualifying tyre. But I felt no grip and struggled to do a fast lap. When I pulled in, after two laps, the tyre looked as if it was brand new and that is not normal for a qualifying tyre.OK, the bike is quite sensitive to any changes we make, but we didn’t change the bike for Superpole, so I don’t understand what happened. I had two crashes today and do not know what happened in either of them, except that both happened with the same bike, so I didn’t use that one again afterwards. But, I am happy with my race pace on this bike and will be fighting for everything I can get in the races. Obviously, being so far down the grid is a problem, but hopefully I will be able to see the lights from way back there and get a good start.Berti Hauser (BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director)
It’s a bit difficult to know what to say, except that our riders and the whole team worked so hard for two days, made good progress and then had it all destroyed in Superpole qualifying. Troy went three tenths of a second faster in Superpole 1 than in normal qualifying, but then was six tenths of a second slower in Superpole 2 than Superpole 1 and I don’t think it is normal for such a rider as Troy.
I am frustrated and I am sure that the whole team feel the same way, because none of us can understand how the same tyres can work so differently. I don’t think this is down to our lack of experience, but it is a strange state of affairs and I hope that we can find some solutions to this kind of problem sooner, rather than later.