Spies On The Verge

Cycle News Staff | October 25, 2009

Yamaha’s Ben Spies took a giant step toward claiming the World Superbike Championship in the first of two races today at the Portimao Circuit in Portugal, the Texan storming to victory while his championship rival Noriyuki Haga was out of the race after crashing the factory Ducati and failing in his efforts to get it going again.And so with just the second race remaining, Spies holds a 15-point lead in the championship.Spies won the race from pole position after getting the better of Hannspree Ten Kate Honda’s Jonathan Rea and Aprilia’s Max Biaggi and will no only need a sixth or better finish in race two to earn the title.Haga, who started the race from the third row, was up to fifth when he crashed. Spies, meanwhile, led for the duration after earning his 11th pole position of the season yesterday.With Haga out of the race, Spies was left to battle with Biaggi while Rea held down third place. But Rea wasn’t done yet and he latched back on to the lead duo, bringing privateer Ducati rider Shane Byrne with him.But Spies would earn the win by 1.6 seconds over Rea, who took advantage of a late mistake by Biaggi to finish second. Byrne held on for fourth after making a run at Biaggi in the final run to the flag, coming up just .6 of a second behind the Italian.Fifth place went to Haga’s Ducati teammtae Michel Fabrizio with British Superbike Champion Leon Camier finishing sixth on the factory Aprilia. Hannspree Ten Kate Honda’s Carlos Checa was next with Ruben Xaus riding the factory BMW to eighth.Among the crashers in the race were Stiggy Honda’s Leon Haslam, Ducati privateer Jakub Smrz and Alstare Suzuki’s Yukio Kagayama. Kagayama’s new teammate Sylvain Guintoli and BMW’s Troy Corser were knocked out of the race with mechanical woes.

Race One

1.                  Ben Spies (Yamaha)

2.                  Jonathan Rea (Honda)

3.                  Max Biaggi (Aprilia)

4.                  Shane Byrne (Ducati)

5.                  Michael Fabrizio (Ducati)

6.                  Leon Camier (Aprilia)

7.                  Carlos Checa (Honda)

8.                  Ruben Xaus (BMW)

9.                  Matthieu Lagrive (Honda)

10.                  Matteo Baiocco (Ducati)