Spies Gets the Record

Henny Ray Abrams | May 30, 2009

Yamaha’s Ben Spies made history by speeding to his seventh consecutive Superpole in a lightning-filled and rain-hit session at Miller Motorsports Park.Using the strategy that’s worked so well this season-race tire in the first session followed by qualifiers in Superpole 2 and 3-Spies put himself in position to take the spot by finishing second to friend Jamie Hacking (Kaw) in the Superpole 1, then taking the top spot in Superpole 2.In the third Superpole, Spies only did two laps, but they were fraught with peril as rain fell on parts of the course and lightning flashed in the area. In the end his time of 1:48.344 mins. wasn’t as good as he’d have liked, but it was more than half a second up on Hannspree Ten Kate Honda’s Carlos Checa.The pole set a number of records, including most in a row,  most at the start of a season, and most in a row by a rookie. The previous mark of six consecutive poles was set in 1992 by fellow Texan Doug Polen en route to the second of his World Championships.”It’s one record I got that no one else has, and not only to do it in my rookie season, to get it done is good,” Spies said. “I thought I could get a clean lap in once I got out at the end and got on the backside of the track. On my warm-up lap I thought it was going to happen, but I knew it was going to be tough. So I just put my head down and got back around and… you know it wasn’t 110%, that lap, for sure, because I was a little bit nervous about the rain. When some of the mechanics are saying to you, ‘Just watch the paint, watch the paint,’ and it gets into your head, and then you see a couple of sprinkles on your visor and you think to yourself, ‘How hard can I twist this throttle open?'”There was a 1:47 out there today, but with the track we couldn’t do it. I did what I could, and I didn’t want to take a big risk because I know we have good race pace, but it was good enough.”Spies said that Polen had called him last night with an agenda-“I think he was trying to get in my head a little bit for this whole deal today”- which is why Spies asked him “‘Why are you calling me? What’s going on here?’ We both said it would have been cool if it did happen, and he could have been here to give me the trophy. But he’s on his way and it was cool to get a call from him, it was nice.”Checa had gone to the top on the first flying lap, but that was before Spies crossed the line. With seven minutes to go in the 12-minute session, Spies went to the top with his 1:48.344. His time held up through everyone’s first flying lap and would hold up to the end. Checa was second.”Yeah, I like to be here, I don’t know why,” the Spaniard who won both races last year said. “Last year was a fantastic time. This year struggling beginning of season and here again we get the speed, we get the pace. And finally we are at the front row. Of course we try to fight for the pole. Conditions were not so easy, because with the rain we don’t know what is going to happen. We try from the beginning. But then I see lap time, I see Spies was very fast, then difficult to improve that lap time today and anyway the target first row is quite positive for tomorrow. We’ll see.”I think will be a tough race, will be not easy as last year for sure, because we have many riders with a similar pace.” As for winning, he said, “I don’t believe that someone is able to make some difference from the beginning and escape. And I believe it will be an exciting race.”Ten Kate Honda’s Ryuichi Kiyonari was third at 1:49.243 mins. with Ducati Xerox’s Michel Fabrizio filling out the front row with a lap two-tenths slower.Guandalini Racing’s Jakub Smrz was fifth fastest in front of Sterilgarda Ducati’s Shane Byrne and Kawasaki’s Broc Parkes and Jamie Hacking. The qualifying effort was by far the best of the season for Kawasaki. Parkes’ previous best was 13th and the team’s previous best was the 11th turned in by replacement rider Sheridan Morais in Kyalami.”For me, it wasn’t about obviously going for the pole, it was all a matter of getting into the last session and being comfortable being there,” Hacking said.


1. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:48.344

2. Carlos Checa (Honda) 1:48.908

3. Ryuichi Kiyonari (Honda) 1:49.243

4. Michel Fabrizio (Ducati) 1:49.434

5. Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1:49.838

6. Shane Byrne (Ducati) 1:49.982

7. Broc Parkes (Kawasaki) 1:51.326

8. Jamie Hacking (Kawasaki) 1:51.438

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.