A day of mixed results saw Yamaha’s Ben Spies take back the lead in the World Superbike Championship in the first of two races at Magny Cours in France, only to lose it again to Noriyuki Haga in race two. With a win and a fourth place finish for Spies and a second-place finish and a win for Noriyuki Haga, the Ducati Xerox rider now leaves France with a 10-point lead.The first of the two races was a thriller with Spies winning his 12th race of his rookie season over Haga by just .181 of a second over his championship rival Haga. Spies had led from the start, but a mistake on the final lap by the Texan allowed Haga to take the lead. Spies regrouped, however, to get the lead back, barely besting Haga to the flag.That gave Spies the lead in the championship by two points.With Spies at the front in race one, it took Haga awhile to get through the pack after a so-so start. He had the most trouble with Aprilia’s Max Biaggi, and it wasn’t until the 17th lap that he was able to pass the Italian. Biaggi tried to counter attack, but ran off after trying to outbrake the Ducati man.At this point, Spies led by over a second. And Haga wasn’t giving up. On the final lap, Spies made his error with Haga going up the inside to take the lead. But Spies wasn’t done yet and he fought back to take the lead, the win and the championship points lead.Biaggi ended up third for his seventh podium of the season and he took over fourth in the championship with Jonathan Rea pulling out of the race early on while running with the pack scrapping over second place.Haga’s teammate Michel Fabrizio ended up fourth, well clear of Leon Haslam on the Stiggy Honda. Carlos Checa was next in sixth place. Suzuki’s Yukio Kagayama, Shane Byrne, Troy Corser and Jakub Smrz rounded out the top 10.The second race saw Biaggi jump to the lead, though he was soon passed by Haga. Spies was fourth at this point – behind Rea. Fabrizio was the first of the stars to depart as he crashed out of the race on the fourth lap. Spies’ teammate Tom Sykes was also down – with his second crash of the day.Haslam looked to have fifth wrapped up as he led Byrne early by some three seconds.After eight laps, Haga led and Spies was on his own in fourth – 1.5 seconds behind. A lap later the gap would be 1.8 seconds. Rea and Biaggi, meanwhile, were sticking with Haga at the front.Spies, having changed from the harder D tire to the softest A Pirelli, was over two seconds back on the 12th lap and was losing points. The Texan was lapping in the 1:40s while the leaders circulated in the 1:39s – and then the 1:38s in the final laps.On the last lap, Haga had enough to allow him to keep Biaggi behind with Rea getting third. Spies was fourth and now 10 points behind in the championship. Haslam ended up fifth.Haga leaves France with 436 points to Spies’ 426. Fabrizio has 346 with Biaggi at 293.Race One1. Ben Spies (Yamaha)2. Noriyuki Haga (Ducati)3. Max Biaggi (Aprilia)4. Michel Fabrizio (Ducati)5. Leon Haslam (Honda)6. Carlos Checa (Honda)7. Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki)8. Shane Byrne (Ducati)9. Troy Corser (BMW)10. Jakub Smrz (Ducati)Race Two1. Noriyuki Haga (Ducati)2. Max Biaggi (Aprilia)3. Jonathan Rea (Honda)4. Ben Spies (Yamaha)5. Leon Haslam (Honda)6. Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki)7. Shane Byrne (Ducati)8. Karl Muggeridge (Suzuki)9. Carlos Checa (Honda)10. Troy Corser (BMW)
Haga On Top
Paul Carruthers | Editor
Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America's Daily Motorcycle News Source.