WSBK: 2009 Donington Park results

Spies dominates while Haga crashes

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Jun. 29, 2009
Ben Spies picked up his third World Superbike double with a sweep of the Donington Park round, June 28 in England.

Meanwhile, championship points leader Noriyuki Haga suffered serious injuries in a crash during the second race, cutting his lead over Spies to 14.

The weekend began with Spies earning his eighth pole position in nine rounds. The Yamaha factory rider continues to prove he is a master of the Superpole format. While Spies’ qualifying performance is no longer a surprise, the Aprilia racing team’s Superpole results were. Max Biaggi qualified second while teammate Shinya Nakano was fourth, putting both Aprilia RSV4 bikes on the front row of the grid. Shane Byrne qualified third for Sterilgarda Ducati, ahead of the factory Ducati Xerox of Michel Fabrizio and Haga who qualified fifth and sixth respectively.

Spies jumped out to the early lead with Biaggi close behind. Biaggi stayed on the rookie’s tail until the final lap of the 23-lap race when a fuel problem prevented a final challenge for the lead.

Ben Spies (left) has ten wins on the season while Max Biaggi had his best result of the season in Race 1.

“It was a tough race for us, Max was there the whole time and we were both able to do quick laps. I got a bit of a gap then made a couple of mistakes and he got back on me,” says Spies. “The last three laps I rode as hard as I could, we got down to the 30s, then I couldn’t hear Max coming into the chicane on the last lap so knew something was wrong and I took the last corners easy.”

Despite the final-lap technical issue, Biaggi was able to stay in front of a hard-charging Haga to finish second, his best result of the season.

“I am very happy with this result after a very hard decision we made in free practice and qualifying. Yesterday we found a way to go fast and we made the right choice in tires and the balance was correct,” says Biaggi. “In the warm-up we had some problems but for the race we fixed most of them. Just on the last lap at the last chicane we had some trouble, I don’t know what, the bike just stopped and then went back again in the last few meters before the flag. I think I deserved second!”

Race 2 began with Spies taking another early lead.

Biaggi was once again in second until the end of lap four when he fell at the Melbourne Hairpin. As he tried to rejoin the race, Biaggi was bumped by another Celani Suzuki racer Alessandro Polita and crashed. Biaggi suffered a hairline fracture to his right foot but was able to complete the race, finishing 21st.

With Biaggi out of contention and Spies well out in front, the battle for second was fought by Haga, Fabrizio, Stiggy Honda racer Leon Haslam and Sterilgarda Ducati’s Shane Byrne.

Noriyuki Haga's injuries were not as serious as first expected.
Michel Fabrizio, who has been flying in recent races, appears to sprout wings as he passes a trackside logo.

Haga’s race however ended on lap five with a hard crash at the Coppice corner. Haga was treated at the track’s medical center where doctors initial diagnosed a vertebrae fracture as well as several other injuries.

With his championship rival out of the race, Spies coasted to his tenth WSBK victory.

“In the second race I knew Nori had a big crash and I hope he’s ok. It’s not the way we want to win it but you have to take the points when you can,” says Spies.

Haslam held Fabrizio off to claim second in his home race. Fellow Brits Byrne and Yamaha’s Tom Sykes finished fourth and fifth.

“We’ve been struggling for the past few rounds with unknown circuits and I really wanted to get on that podium today,” says Haslam. “I feel good, obviously feel sorry for Haga because I was pushing him hard and I was pretty happy to get second.”

American Blake Young made his WSBK debut at Donington Park as a substitute for the injured Max Neukirchner for Suzuki Alstare Brux. Young was the last racer across the line in Race 1, finishing 25th, but he showed improvement in Race 2 with a 17th place result. Anglo-American Jamie Hacking finished 21st in Race 1 but did not finish Race 2 as a substitute for injured Kawasaki racer Makoto Tamada.

Haga was transported to a hospital in nearby Derby, England, and underwent a CAT scan on June 29. The test determined that the vertebrae fracture diagnosed by track doctors was from a previous injury and did not pose a problem. Haga was slated to have a plate and screws inserted in his right forearm for a broken ulna while doctors continue to investigate the cause of some pain in Haga’s left shoulder.

Haga will have nearly a month to recover as the WSBK season takes a break before the July 24-26 round at Brno, Czech Republic. Haga still holds the lead in the standings but Spies has been gaining momentum. Spies has won five of the last six races while Haga’s best results over that span were a pair of third-place finishes. Meanwhile, his teammate Fabrizio remains in the title picture, 51 points back of the lead and 37 behind Spies. Fabrizio has reached the podium in nine of the last ten races.

2009 WSBK Championship top five standings (after nine rounds)
Pos. Rider Motorcycle Points
1st Noriyuki Haga Ducati 1198R 308
2nd Ben Spies Yamaha YZF-R1 294
3rd Michel Fabrizio Ducati 1198R 257
4th Jonathan Rea Honda CBR1000RR 177
5th Leon Haslam Honda CBR1000RR 167