Superbike Men Speak Out

Press Release | April 26, 2009

he following is from Ben Spies’ publicist…Ben Spies experienced racing’s best and worst Sunday at Assen. The Yamaha rider went from elation after winning one of the most thrilling World Superbike races in series history in race one, to grief after crashing out of the lead early in race two.Ultimately the race one victory will go down as one of the true epics in World Superbike. Spies led for the first 12 laps of the 22-lap race. Lap 13 proved unlucky as both Noriyuki Haga and Leon Haslam got past, relegating Spies to third.With three laps to go Spies mounted one of the best late-race charges the series has seen in years. First he and Haslam ran side by side for three turns with Spies taking back second. With two laps to go Spies was still nearly a half second behind Haga, but he quickly narrowed the gap. On the final lap Spies made a daring inside move on Haga to take the lead and then held his lines to edge the series leader by 0.154 seconds at the checkered flag.Spies said he had to overcome some issues in the first race to earn the victory.”In the race the bike didn’t seem to have the same feeling it had in practice,” Spies said. “I ran as hard as I could, but realized it might be a tough day for me when I got passed by Haga and Haslam. With about five laps to go the bike started coming around and I thought I might have a chance. Haslam and I went side by side through three turns and I was fortunate to get through. It was good clean racing.”Spies then set his sites on Haga.”I got behind him on the last lap and just waited for an opportunity to present itself. I got good drive out of the fifth-gear right hander and snuck inside of him and that was it. It felt pretty spectacular to win like that.”Spies was filled with confidence going into race two, but things when awry early in the race.”The bike felt very normal and I was able to get into the lead,” he said. “On the second lap coming out of [turn] one I just barely touched the edge of the track on the grass and had a big highside. It was unfortunate because I felt like I was riding well and the bike was great. I mean I barely got the bike off the edge and that was the end of the race. That’s just how it goes.”Spies assessed his chances of catching Haga, who won the second race and is now 60 points up going into the next event at Monza on May 10.”This is not how I like to run championships,” Spies admitted. “I’ve had three no points races and basically now it’s coming down to I have to be perfect now and do nothing but win races to catch up in the championship.”Regardless of the hit we took today I’m still proud of the team and the way I’ve ridden as a rookie in this series. I still want to try to win this championship, but it’s going to be tough. I’ve come back from big deficits before and that’s what I’m going to have to do again. It’s gotten pretty interesting pretty quickly.”Spies said he felt fine physically after the crash.The World Superbike Championship moves to Italy and the famous Monza circuit on May 10. It will be a home race of sorts for Spies since his home in Italy is only about a half-hour drive to Monza. Spies was the fastest rider in a recent test at Monza.In the U.S. both rounds of the World Superbike Championship from Assen can be watched back to back today, 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 Dutch crowds were witness to two spectacular Superbike races today at the historic TT circuit and Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox) followed up a second place finish in Race 1 with a brilliant victory in Race 2, his second win at this track after the first, achieved nine years back in the year 2000.In Race 1 Ducati Xerox rider Noriyuki Haga did not made a brilliant start and spent the first laps playing catch up to Ben Spies and Max Neukirchner. Once the second-placed Suzuki rider was out of the way, after an unfortunate fall during lap six, Noriyuki was able to choose his moment carefully to pass Spies during the twelfth lap. He subsequently held on to the lead ahead of Spies and Englishman Haslam until the very last lap when the American executed a well-timed pass that left Nitro-Nori with no time to retaliate, meaning that man in red Haga just missed on victory by a tenth of a second.Meanwhile Noriyuki’s team-mate Michel lost a few positions due to a not particularly fast start and although he made up a few places by mid-race, the ensuing close battle between himself, Smrz, Rea and Laconi made things tough and Fabrizio thus concluded Race 1 in ninth position.In Race 2 Noriyuki got off to a flying start and went straight to the head of the pack, a fraction of a second behind Spies, who passed the leader’s baton on to Haga during the second lap when he highsided in spectacular fashion and was thus forced to retire from the race. Haga then ran a lonely race up front, with team-mate Fabrizio and Honda rider Haslam fighting behind him for the second and third positions. Unfortunately Michel, who held off fourth-placed Smrz for the majority of the race, began to have problems getting his 1198 into gear during the final laps and eventually this meant that he just lost out on third, having to settle for a fourth place finish.Noriyuki’s performance today means that he has further increased his championship lead, with 180 points and a 60 point advantage over second-placed Spies. The manufactures championship continues to be led by Ducati with 180 points, ahead of Yamaha with 145.Noriyuki Haga (Race 1 – 2nd, Race 2 – winner)

“It’s been a great day for us and after nine years I have finally won again at Assen; I am very happy. In Race 1 I was a little disappointed to just lose out on the win on the very last lap but it was a great race. I set off strong but Spies and Haslam rode so hard today. First I had to push hard to catch Spies which was quite difficult as my bike was still not working perfectly and then to hold the lead was not easy either as the two of them were breathing down my neck. We changed the setting of the bike slightly for Race 2 and I was extremely comfortable on it. I’m sorry that Ben fell as I think we would have had another good battle but for me and my team it’s been a very good day. I thank my engineer, my team, Ducati and the sponsors and now we head to Monza for the next challenge.”Michel Fabrizio (Race 1 – 9th, Race 2 – 4th)

“I am of course very disappointed as I did my utmost to be on the podium here today. I had to grit my teeth in both of today’s races as I was once again having problems with my forearm. In the last few laps I was having trouble changing gear and this then forced me to slow in the last lap, which meant that Smrz passed me at the final corner. I guess that, looking on the positive side, it’s a good thing it happened at the end of the last lap because at least I was able to finish the race and take important points. These things happen and we look ahead to Monza. After recent testing there I’m sure my team will work hard to give me a winning bike for the next round and I hope to be able to celebrate a win with them there.”The following is from BMW…Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport rider Troy Corser enjoyed one of the most consistent racedays of the season so far, taking a superb pair of top ten finishes at Assen today. Despite problems in Superpole qualifying, a lowly grid position and a painful left hand, Troy battled his way throughout the two 22-lappers. He was in obvious discomfort changing direction and on heavy braking, due to a cracked bone in his left hand, but somehow he ignored the pain barrier and brought his S 1000 RR home twice, much to the delight of the whole team. He was well supported by his team mate Ruben Xaus, who had also been forced to start from way down the grid. Ruben began both races from the fifth row, but charged his way to 14th in race one and then followed that up with a 11th in race two.

American Ben Spies (Yamaha) won a thrilling race one, with Noriyuki Haga (Ducati) second and Leon Haslam (Honda) third. Spies looked as he was all set for a double, but crashed out of race two after just one lap. Haga took over the lead and was then never headed on the way to an emphatic victory. Second was Haslam, with Jakub Smrz (Ducati) third.Troy – Race 1: 10th, Race 2: 10th

That was one of our most consistent racedays this season and although I’m never happy with 10th place, I think that is about the best we could’ve done today. Maybe if we hadn’t started the races from the fourth row, I could’ve challenged for sixth or seventh place, but until we qualify better, it’s always going to be a case of playing ‘catch-up’.  My hand wasn’t too bad in race one, but it was definitely more sore in race two. The crack is right where you put pressure on the handlebars, so it’s not something that I could avoid. So, all in all, I think it is pretty good to get two tenths today.Ruben – Race 1: 14th, race 2: 11th

I think we need some more help from the tyre guys, because it is quite difficult getting a tyre to work with our bike sometimes and that is affecting our progress. But I am happy to finish both races today and I am also happy because I know I did some good lap times, particularly in the second race.  The bike was on the limit in race one, but I felt it was better in race two and that is reflected in the better lap times. Also, I know that there are further improvements to come and once we can put everything together I’m sure we will finish higher up.Berti Hauser (BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director)

Today’s results have reduced the pain of yesterday’s Superpole qualifying and shows that we are capable of improving and getting good results. The ideas from our recent Monza tests are bearing fruit and I am happy because it means we are going in the right direction. I think both riders have done a brilliant job today. Troy was in some pain in both races but still fought hard and gave us top ten results. And Ruben took 11th after finishing 20th in Superpole and that shows that he is also a fighter. After four races we are more or less where we expected to be, but 10th position is from where we must now improve on. We are all happy because to be at this kind of level, in such a competitive championship, shows our strength and ability to run with the top guys, all of whom have much more experience then us.

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