Yamaha’s Ben Spies rode through rain and lightning to become the first rider to take seven consecutive pole positions in 22 seasons of World Superbike racing.Spies came to Miller Motorsports Park riding a perfect six for six streak in Superpole. But by the time the third of the three 12-minute sessions rolled around, there was rain on parts of the track and lightning flashes in the vicinity.Spies said that on his final lap, going into the Clubhouse Turn near the end of the lap, he “saw a huge lightning bolt and I was like, ‘Holy s-t!’ I’m just trying to get out of this thing. But for the seventh one it was a little nerves got in there. We knew we had good speed, just had to survive through the rain.”The rain was falling in the turn one braking area “and then it kind of cleared up and then in the back it was pretty gnarly, but one time I actually got out on the paint,” he said. “I was like, you don’t know; it’s such a fine line because the pavement’s so hot and it’s evaporating. It’s still, it’s coming down and it plays with your head and you’re trying to put a fast lap in.”The fast lap was a 1:48.344, short of the record 1:48.193 turned in by Carlos Checa when he earned the lone Superpole of his career last year at Miller.”Yeah, I mean there was a ‘47 in it for sure, but that was what the track had today, that’s what we could do,” Spies said of his run in difficult conditions.The seven poles ties him for 13th all time-Troy Corser is the leader with 42-and puts him ahead of WSB veteran Nori Haga (6) and two-time World Superbike Champion James Toseland (4).”It ended up being good and to get it done and pressure off now and we can concentrate on tomorrow and bike’s working good. Hopefully we can find a little bit more in the morning and it’ll be good.”What especially tickled him about Superpole was that the performance of his good friend Jamie Hacking on the Kawasaki. Hacking was the surprise fast rider in Superpole 3, the first of three twelve-minute sessions for the 20 fastest riders. He was seventh in Superpole 2, which put him in Superpole 1, a mark that Makoto Tamada, the rider he replaced, never came close to. Hacking ended up qualifying eighth.”We kind of went over the Superpole plan on what he kind of needed to do if he was where he was. He did it perfect,” Spies said, adding “I’m stoked for him. He hadn’t ridden a Superbike in half a year and these guys know the track and he doesn’t know the tires, so it’s a pretty even playing ground, and he’s showing he’s got the speed, so it’s good.”
Spies Talks Fast
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.