Spies tests 2009 Yamaha R1

Three-time AMA Champ receives Athlete of the Year nomination

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Nov. 05, 2008
Ben Spies made his debut with Yamaha Motor Italia, riding the factory World Superbike team’s R1 in the Nov. 4 post-season testing session at the Autodromo Internacional Algarve in Portimao, Portugal.

The three-time AMA Superbike Champion got a chance to ride the 2008 bike and the updated 2009 model with the uneven-firing engine.

Spies set the fastest time in the test with an unofficial 1:44.000 lap on the 2008 machine that Noriyuki Haga rode to a third-place finish in the rider standings. To put that in perspective, only three riders lapped in less than 1 minute 44 seconds in the season-ending race on the same track including Haga’s best lap of 1:43.990.

Ben Spies' best lap time in the Portimao tests was 1:44.000, not too far off the pace of Noriyuki Haga's best time from last weekend's race.“I got a bit of time on both the ’08 and ’09 models,” Spies said. “Both bikes were good. The new bike … well I’m under orders not to say too much about it.

“But I can say that the sound from it is pretty amazing. It sounds a lot like Yamaha’s M1 MotoGP bike.”

Spies says he was also impressed by the new Algarve circuit. The track opened in October and the Nov. 2 WSBK stop was the first major event to be held at the Autodromo.

“This track is one of the nicest, if not the nicest racing circuit I’ve ridden,” says Spies. “I would describe it as a bigger, faster version of Barber (Motorsports Park). It has a good combination of high-speed and more technical corner combinations. I’m very much looking forward to coming back here to race next year.”

The roar of the 2009 R1 reminded Spies of Yamaha's MotoGP bike, the M1.In the meantime, Spies will be spending the off-season becoming familiar with his new team and house-hunting in Italy.

“There’s a lot to do this winter,” says Spies. “I’m going to Italy to look at properties to rent. I’ll also spend a lot of time at Yamaha’s racing shop to get to know everyone. I haven’t even looked at the testing schedule yet, but I’m sure that’s going to keep me busy as well. I’m also going to step up my training to even higher levels. That’s what it’s going to take to be able to come out here and be competitive in World Superbike.”

Spies will also be expected at the AMA Pro Racing Awards Banquet at the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Leeds, Ala. on Nov. 23. AMA Pro Racing named Spies as one of the five finalists for the AMA SPEED Athlete of the Year Award.

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2009 Yamaha R1 Unveiled!
Spies signs with Yamaha WSBK Team