The following is from Ben Spies publicist..Yamaha World Superbike rider Ben Spies remains optimistic about his championship chances in spite of the fact that the Texan lost the series lead to rival Nori Haga after Spies finished fourth and fifth at the Imola round on Sunday.Spies came into Imola with major momentum on his side. After falling behind by as much as 88 points to Haga in the championship, Spies climbed all the way back with a string of wins and in Germany three weeks ago took over the series lead for the first time.This weekend at Imola wasn't kind to Spies however. After qualifying second, Spies raced to fourth saying he had to deal with slight problems with his bike."We had some electronics issues that kept us from running up front," Spies explained. "I wouldn't call it a major problem, but it was just enough that I couldn't ride the bike to its full potential."In the second race Spies felt his R1 Superbike was performing better, but he ran off the track twice and had to work hard to minimize the damage and secure a fifth-place result."(Marco) Simoncelli came in a little hot and pushed (Max) Biaggi wide," Spies said. "Max was definitely coming across the track right in my line so I had to run off the track to avoid him. Then I ran off and in the gravel one other time, so all things considered I can't complain too much about the weekend. Having to deal with two incidents like that. It could have turned out much worse. Fourth and fifth is obviously not where I want to finish, but I survived to come back and fight another day."Haga went one-two at Imola to earn back the top spot in the standings."My hat's off to Nori for making such a strong comeback after his injuries. It's just a three-point difference, so essentially we're even going into Magny Cours next weekend. I'm looking forward to the final two rounds. I've never been to Magny Cours, so we'll see how that goes. I've been to Portimao and I love that track. The tail end of this championship is going to be interesting that's for sure."In the U.S. both legs of World Superbike from Imola will be shown back to back in tonight (Sunday, Sept. 27) starting at 5:00 pm Eastern on SPEED.Ben Spies is sponsored by Yamaha, HJC, Alpinestars, Specialized and Parts Europe.

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By Cycle News Staff

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