WSBK: 2009 Kyalami results

Double-double for Ducati

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, May. 18, 2009
The 2009 World Superbike Championship was supposed to be the most competitive season ever with several racers and manufacturers capable of winning each weekend.

Ducati Xerox has thrown that pre-season prediction out the window with a double one-two finish at the May 15-17 round in Kyalami, South Africa. Noriyuki Haga rebounded from a collision with a bird in the previous race with a pair of victories giving him six wins in 12 races.

“My arm was not a problem at all during the racing,” says Haga. “I must say I was very glad to see there are less birds here at Kyalami than at Monza

What looked like a two-man race for the title is now a three-way battle with Michel Fabrizio joining the fray with Noriyuki Haga and Ben Spies.Haga’s teammate Michel Fabrizio also appears to be rounding into form with two runner-up finishes, giving him four straight podium appearances and six in eight races.

Race One started with Yamaha’s Ben Spies once again on the pole. Spies has proven to be the master of the Superpole, qualifying first at every round this season. The prime starting position didn’t help Spies that much as Haga and Fabrizio finished the first lap ahead of him.

Haga led the first lap and Fabrizio led the next ten before Haga retook control to lead the final half of the 24-lap race. Fabrizio and Spies battled for the final two podium spots but Spies slipped off his footpegs during one altercation, giving Fabrizio the advantage.

“We were struggling to hang in there in race one, it was a good race for all three of us up at the front,” says Spies. “When I passed Michel I tried to reel in Nori and then unfortunately made a mistake. I was really strong in parts of the track but giving up too much time in some corners and couldn’t get in there.”

Race Two began with Haga and Spies trading the lead for the first two laps. Their battle was short-lived however as the shift linkage on Spies’ R1 broke on lap three, forcing the American to retire.

With Spies out of the way, Haga and Fabrizio separated themselves from the pack. Haga led for 23 of the race’s 24 laps. Fabrizio made a couple of final-lap challenges but Haga was able to recover each time and crossed the finish line 0.322 seconds ahead of his teammate. Ten Kate Honda’s Jonathan Rea finished third for his first career WSBK podium.

“The second race was very unfortunate, I was feeling good and had secured an early lead, then obviously had the technical problem and had to retire,” says Spies. “I’m really disappointed about it. I’m looking forward to going home to the U.S.A. for the next round and seeing if we can make it up.”

Haga leaves Kyalami with an 85-point lead in the standings. Fabrizio’s two runner-up finishes moves him past Spies into second place.

Spies will have his chance to respond as the 2009 WSBK Championship returns May 29-31 to a track he’s much more familiar with, Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah.

2009 WSBK Championship top five standings (after six rounds)
Pos. Rider Motorcycle Points
1st Noriyuki Haga Ducati 1098R 250
2nd Michel Fabrizio Ducati 1098R 165
3rd Ben Spies Yamaha YZF-R1 162
4th Leon Haslam Honda CBR1000RR 116
5th Jonathan Rea Honda CBR1000RR 106