It All Comes Down To This

Press Release | October 21, 2009

The following is from Yamaha…The clock is ticking down to the 14th and final round of the 2009 World Superbike Championship at the Portimao circuit in Portugal. With just ten points separating championship leader Haga from Yamaha World Superbike rider Ben Spies everything is to play for on race day. If Spies can secure two race wins, he will walk away with not just the championship title, but a well earned place in the World Superbike history books. Spies can already claim the title of greatest rookie of all time, taking the championship by storm in his first year on his R1, racking up an incredible 13 race wins, six fastest lap records and 16 podiums on mostly unknown circuits.Teammate Tom Sykes heads to the final round of the year determined to reach the elusive podium he has worked so hard for this season. Sykes has had a challenging year, however has displayed good race pace at most tracks and was a consistent top ten finisher for the most part. He has proved to have good speed at Portimao having performed well in the tests so will be looking to hold on to his eighth position in the championship come race day. Sykes currently sits on 176 points, 24 behind Carlos Checa in seventh.This will be the second outing for the World Superbike Championship on the Portimao circuit which was completed last year just before the final round of the 2008 Championship. The track proved to be a major hit with riders and fans alike with swooping corners, corkscrews, blind corners and multiple elevation changes ensuring exciting racing from the lights.”I can’t wait to get to the circuit and get set up for Sunday’s races,” said Ben Spies. “We’ve been fighting hard for race wins all year, and as a rookie on a new bike I think we’ve achieved some pretty good results. My focus is completely on going for two race wins on Sunday, I would love to be able to deliver the title for the team as they really deserve it and have worked so hard to make it possible. We do go well on the Portimao circuit, so I’m going to give it everything I’ve got to challenge Nori for the wins. There will be a few fast guys up there as always so it should be an exciting race day.””I’m obviously very much looking forward to this weekend,” said Tom Sykes. “We’ve had good tests there in the past so we’re going there on a good base setting and looking to finish the season on a high; I certainly feel it’s achievable. The only concern I have at the moment is the fitness in my shoulder after France, although hopefully I will be able to get on the bike and put that behind me. I would like to finish strong for Yamaha and repay my team for all their hard work they’ve put in this year.”Portimao technically speaking according to Tom Houseworth, Ben Spies Crew Chief”We will start with our baseline setting on our primary bike and a modified test setting on the back up bike. Though we have quite a lot of data from testing, the engine and chassis spec has changed quite a lot from pre-season so there will be some variables to work on. We will be looking for maximum grip and quick direction change as Portimao is quite a twisty circuit with elevation changes and a variety of corners. Our goal is to be set up quick and then pick race tyres so we can get time on them in an attempt to find the ‘perfect’ race set up. Once traction and wheelie control are dialed in we will hope for good weather on Sunday and see if we can get it done.”Portimao technically speaking according to Sergio Verbena, Tom Sykes Crew Chief”For Portimao we will follow the same working line we have used in the last few races. We found a couple of good developments in Magny Cours and Imola which we will incorporate from the start. The last race was very unlucky for Tom, but for Portimao we have a lot of data from the winter test so we should have an advantage. In the test we were consistently fast (Tom was fourth fastest) so we are quite confident. We just hope Tom has recovered completely from the second race crash in Magny Cours, when he crashed because of a contact with Checa.”Massimo Meregalli, Yamaha World Superbike Team Manager

“We have only one choice, to go there and try to win both races. Both the tests we’ve had at Portimao with Ben were really good and also I’m confident that he knows how to win both races so I think it is very possible we will have success. We can’t do anything about the weather but we know Ben is ready to give it everything he’s got regardless. I’m expecting Tom to push hard and try and get the podium that he hasn’t managed to achieve yet this year and he will also try to help Ben as much as he can.”The following is from Honda…Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) returns to the scene of his first WSB ride for his current team this weekend, as the World Superbike Championship comes to its thrilling conclusion at the magnificent Portimao circuit, set in the hills above the holiday resorts of the Algarve. The championship is still undecided, with current table-topper Noriyuki Haga only ten points ahead of Ben Spies, and with 50 points up for grabs for any rider who wins both races.Rea is the highest placed Honda rider in the title chase, fifth, and he is only 14 points behind Max Biaggi in the overall standings. His aim for this weekend is therefore to add to his season tally of two wins, and score enough points to go top four in the final reckoning on Sunday evening. Rea will remain with the team next year, and is already working towards the 2010 season in terms of set-up and machine development.Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda CBR600RR) suffered a blow to his World Supersport Championship hopes last time out. Now lagging Cal Crutchlow by 19 points he has to win or finish second on Sunday, and then await the results of Crutchlow’s race to determine whether or not he becomes WSS champion at the first time of asking. At his team’s home race, Laverty will not suffer from lack of support in his quest.For top WSB privateer Leon Haslam (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR1000RR) 2009 has seen him take four podium finishes so far, and he is out for more at a circuit he has competed at before, and indeed scored a WSB podium at, during a 2008 wildcard ride.Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) won the World Supersport race at Portimao last year, when he returned to the 600cc category in a machine swap with Jonathan Rea one race before the end of the year. He has been a race winner three times already this season, and needs to earn good points to keep his closest rival Joan Lascorz behind him and remain third overall.Honda is leading the Manufacturers’ Championship in the Supersport class by only a single point, a factor that brings special significance to more than just the results of the Riders’ Championship this weekend.Anthony West (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR600RR) will not be competing at Portimao as his team had been forced to make drastic cuts in its budget, and with an unchanging score of 117 points he is now in danger of being overhauled in the championship standings by Fabien Foret (on 115 points) and outgoing World Champion for Honda, Andrew Pitt (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) who has 114 points.Ryuichi Kiyonari (Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) injured his collarbone yet again at Magny-Cours last time out, but will attempt to race to the maximum possible this weekend, after recuperating at home in Japan.For Carlos Checa (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) Portimao will be his final race for the team, and he aims to go out with a strong result, and consolidate his overall seventh place in the rankings. He is 24 points ahead of the next rider in line.For Portuguese rider Miguel Praia (Parkalgar Honda CBR600RR) the Portimao race is the most significant of the year, and having now hit his 2009 target of at least one top ten race finish, he will be all out to set a new personal best of a top six placing at the track he knows better than anyone else.Matthieu Lagrive (Honda Althea CBR1000RR) is back in the Superbike class this weekend, focused on turning his enjoyment at riding around Portimao to his advantage in terms of final race positions.Mark Aitchison (Althea Honda CBR600RR) is another rider who raves about Portimao, and he will be re-joined by young Italian hopeful Flavio Gentile (Althea Honda CBR600RR), who is back in the 600cc division, after swapping classes with Lagrive at Magny-Cours. Aitchison is eighth in the rankings now, tied on points with Garry McCoy.After the races on Sunday there will be an extensive two-day test, 27 and 28 October, where Honda riders old and new will get the chance to start preparing for the 2010 season.RIDER COMMENTSJonathan Rea: “Last year, Portimao was my first race on a Ten Kate Honda Superbike and I really had a lot of fun. Although the track has quite a difficult layout, I really enjoy riding it and I’m looking forward to going back there. The bike is completely different to the one I rode last year and at the pre-season test, so we’ll be working from a much better starting point.

Although it’s the final round, there’s still a chance for me to improve my overall position in the championship so we’ll be working really hard for that. I’m aiming for a fun end to the season and will be going for two more good finishes to end the year on a high.”Leon Haslam: “I want to go out of the season on a high with the Stiggy Team to say thank you to them for the opportunity I have had this year. We got on the podium a few times on a privateer machine and we will be going for that again in the final rounds. I rode a Honda at Portimao last year, and got a podium, so that experience should help us this weekend.”Carlos Checa: “Last year’s races at Portimao were quite eventful but good for me, with a podium in the first race. It was looking good also for race two but I got caught in another rider’s crash and had to go off the track. Portimao is one of the best circuits on the calendar – really good fun and very special – so I hope to finish the season with some good results, as a farewell gift for the team. I’d like to thank them for a very enjoyable two years and for the opportunity to join the World Superbike championship. It’s a shame we were not able to fight for the title this season as we hoped, but I will try to make sure we finish with a good race.”Ryuichi Kiyonari: “I have been recovering in Japan, after breaking my collarbone again at the last round in Magny-Cours. It was a shame because I felt that we were beginning to find some improvement and a better feeling on the bike. It has been a difficult season and, at times, I have had some problems finding the right setting, but I want to try my best to finish the season with some good results. I struggled a little bit at Portimao last year, but I think that was because it was a new circuit for me. I like the layout very much and we went back for testing in January, although the weather was not so good. I hope my shoulder will be OK this weekend so that I can do my best for the team.”Matthieu Lagrive: “I’m looking forward to racing at the Parkalgar track. I always like to race at this Portuguese circuit because it’s really beautiful. The weather may be changeable for us this weekend but either way our bike is working well in wet or dry conditions. These are the last races of the year so I would like to finish well, for me and especially for our team.”The following is from Ducati…Portimao (Portugal) Monday 19th October: the final round of the 2009 Superbike World Championship, taking place this weekend at the Portuguese track of Portimao, will see an all out battle for the title between championship leader, Ducati Xerox rider Noriyuki Haga and Yamaha’s Ben Spies. Noriyuki, having led the championship for the best part of the season, and having finished five previous championships in either second or third position, now has a small, but significant, ten point advantage over Spies and is hungry for his first World Superbike Championship title, as is his squad, the Ducati Xerox Team, winners of the 2008 championship with Troy Bayliss.The Ducati Xerox Team has already secured the 2009 World Superbike Manufacturers title, for the sixteenth time, after a stunning win and second place finish by Nitro-Nori at Magny-Cours two weeks ago. Over the season, Noriyuki and Michel have so far clocked up ten wins and thirty-two podium finishes between them and already hold a combined points total of 782 going into this final round.The factory squad now looks to Portimao and, now that the Manufacturers title has already been brought home to Borgo-Panigale, concentration turns to the all-important Riders title, already won thirteen times in the past by the Ducati team, with riders of such calibre as Troy Bayliss and Carl Fogarty.Last year at Portimao both Noriyuki and Michel had problems in the first race, with Nori suffering a technical setback and Michel crashing out on the opening lap. In Race 2 Michel had a much better time of it, running up front before crossing the line in second place, behind former team-mate Bayliss. Noriyuki was unfortunately penalised for a jump start in the second race and, once he’d made a ride through the pits, he was unable to make up the lost ground, closing in 14th position.With everything to play for, Noriyuki, Michel and the Ducati Xerox Team are fighting fit and ready to fight for the ultimate prize, during a weekend that promises spectacular racing.Noriyuki Haga (1st in championship, 436 points)

“Last year at Portimao didn’t go to plan; I had some bad luck. This year I am in a better position and now everything comes down to this last event. My strategy won’t be any different from normal; I always go out with the aim to win and I always give 100%. I’ve finished second or third in the last five editions of the Superbike championship and so all I am missing is the title win, a title I hope to be able to bring home to Ducati and to Japan this weekend.”Michel Fabrizio (3rd in championship, 346 points)

“I’ve very happy with how my season’s gone and I would like to finish the year with two more podiums. I’m feeling confident and am reassured that the third position that I hold in the standings can’t be taken from me as fourth place Max is too far behind to catch up now. I hope Noriyuki can take the title for Ducati and I’ll be backing him all the way this weekend.”The following is from BMW…The final round of this year’s Superbike World Championship takes place at the Autodromo Algarve in Portugal and both Troy and Ruben are aiming to end the season on a high. This year’s championship has been the most competitive in its twenty-two year history, but Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport team has acquitted itself very well in its first year of competition and is now looking to build on this year’s experiences and come back even stronger next year.The Portimao track is relatively new to the calendar and is one of the most technically challenging circuits of the series, thanks to its changes of elevation and blind corners. Both Troy and Ruben raced there last year, albeit on different machines, so although they know which way round the track goes, the first day of practice and qualifying will be used to try and find a good set-up for their bikes.Troy

It seems to have been quite a long year, but I am satisfied with the progress we have made throughout the season and I am especially pleased with the S 1000 RR in the past few races. The series is so competitive and hard this year and often less then half a second is the difference between a good grid place and something further down the order. And if you don’t get a good grid position, you are always playing catch-up. If we took our race times from this year and put them into last year’s results, our bike would’ve been on the podium quite a few times, so that shows how much faster everybody is going this year.I am looking forward to Portimao and finding out what our engineers have come up with since the last round. I am hoping that another step forward has been made and that Ruben and I can finish BMW’s debut season on a high.Ruben

I cannot wait for Portimao because I really want to see what the guys have done to the bike since Magny-Cours and see if I can push it and myself to our best result of the year. I am happy that I can race in Portugal because originally my doctors told me that I wouldn’t race again this year after my crash in Brno. So, a big thank you to my physiotherapist and everybody at the clinic where I did a lot of rehabilitation and training. My body is not yet 100%, but I will be stronger than I was at Magny-Cours and you need to be fully fit to ride these kind of bikes hard. Portimao is a very physical circuit, so I know that my body is going to get a pounding, but I am going to do my best and try and get my best finish of the year.Berti Hauser (BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director)

This year has been a big adventure for us all and an exciting challenge. We knew that this year was not going to be easy, but I think we have done very well considering we are such a new team. Our bike (and our team) has a big potential and we know that we are going to make more and more progress. Already, we are looking forward to continuing our development over the winter and coming back even stronger next year.I am very happy that we will have Troy and Ruben with us again in 2010. From the very first day, they have been part of the team and have helped create a super team atmosphere. Both are strong and are determined to win and hopefully we can give them the opportunity to do it next year.The following is from InFrontSports…The Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, situated not far from the seaside town of Portimao (Portugal), is gearing up for the final round of the 2009 FIM Hannspree Superbike World Championship this coming weekend. This ultra-modern circuit, which opened for business exactly twelve months ago, has in just a short period of time become one of the best in Europe, with its superb infrastructure and a spectacular but testing track layout. Not for nothing was Troy Bayliss, who came here with a third title in his hands, last year’s double winner on the first appearance of World Superbike at this circuit.The Portimao track therefore represents an ideal venue for the final round of the season, which will see the Superbike, Supersport and European Superstock 600 titles all to be decided.TWO INTO ONE WON’T GO: The battle for the title between Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox) and Ben Spies (Yamaha World Superbike) could go either way seeing as both riders have a similar knowledge of the track and both arrive at the final round in excellent form. The advantage probably lies with the Japanese rider, seeing as the gap between the two is a mere 10 points after a season-long’s racing. Should the Texan rookie win both races or find himself on equal points with Nitro-Nori, he would win the title on countback of number of wins this season. The entire race weekend therefore will also be a battle of nerves and the battle promises to go right down to the wire…THREE’S A CROWD: But the fight for the title in Portugal will undoubtedly see some outside influence from the three other race winners this year, all of whom will be gunning for the win. One of these is two-times winner Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox), whose chief task at Portimao will be to assist his team-mate. At Magny-Cours the Italian was somewhat on the sidelines with two below-par races, but in Portugal he will be required to make a substantial contribution to the Ducati cause should it be required. No team strategy will be on the cards for the other two undoubted protagonists, Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing) and Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda). The all-Italian combination has made considerable progress this season and Max is now constantly in amongst the podium battle. To finish the season with another win would be a major boost for next season, when Max will certainly be one of the title candidates. As for Rea, the young rider from Northern Ireland has proved himself to be one of the top riders in the category and he will surely be one of the favourites this time around at a circuit where he made his WSB debut exactly twelve months ago. Max and Johnny will also be fighting for an overall fourth place, currently in the hands of Biaggi, who has a 14-point lead over his rival.EARLY DEBUT: The 2009 championship is already looking towards the future, with an early debut for Sylvain Guintoli in the Suzuki Alstare team in place of Max Neukirchner. The Frenchman, who has recently recovered from a nasty crash at Donington in the British Superbike championship earlier this season, is on his way to total recovery and will be one of the new arrivals in next year’s championship. BSB champion Leon Camier, who will take the start for the second successive race on the Aprilia RSV4 machine, will be looking to impress the Italian team following his first outing at Magny-Cours. The Noale manufacturer will enter three bikes, with Shinya Nakano returning for the first time since the Nurburgring. Also searching for a place next year will be Britain’s Shane Byrne (Sterilgarda Ducati), who may represent an outsider at Portimao. In last year’s pre-season testing he surprised everyone by setting the best time and will surely be looking to end this season on a high note.Points (after 13 of 14 rounds): 1. Haga 436; 2. Spies 426; 3. Fabrizio 346; 4. Biaggi 293; 6. Rea 279; 6. Haslam 241; 7. Checa 200; 8. Sykes 176; 9. Byrne 166; 10. Smrz 161. Manufacturers: 1. Ducati 534; 2. Yamaha 469; 3. Honda 395; 4. Aprilia 303; 5. Suzuki 167; 6. Bmw 126; 7. Kawasaki 67SUPERSPORT: The title is still up for grabs in Supersport, with Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha World Supersport) 19 points ahead of Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda). The British rider needs just a tenth place, irrespective of what his adversary does, to be crowned champion, before heading up to Superbike next year, when he will team up with James Toseland in the official Yamaha squad. As well as the Riders’ title, Crutchlow will also have one eye on the Manufacturers’ crown as Yamaha are just one point behind Honda. There will also be a terrific scrap for third place as Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda), the 2007 champion, will have to watch out for the talented young Kawasaki rider Joan Lascorz. The Spaniard, all fired up following his splendid win at Magny-Cours, is just six points behind the Turk and will be looking for another top result to finish off his excellent season.Points (after 13 of 14 rounds): 1. Crutchlow 230; 2. Laverty 211; 3. Sofuoglu 169: 4. West 117; 5.West 117; 6. Foret 115; 7. Pitt 114; 8. Aitchison 82; 9. McCoy 82; 10. Roccoli 70. Manufacturers: 1. Honda 272; 2. Yamaha 271; 3. Kawasaki 183; 4. Triumph 98; 5. Suzuki 30

By Press Release