WSBK: 2009 Misano results

Half a second separates Race 2 podium finishers

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Jun. 22, 2009
Ben Spies earned his eighth win of the season while another rookie, Jonathan Rea won his first World Superbike Championship race in Misano, Italy.

The June 20-21 WSBK round featured a new rider starting from the pole position as Guandalini Ducati racer Jakub Smrz won the Superpole qualifier, ending Spies’ streak at seven Superpoles in his first seven WSBK rounds.

Race One was held in flag-to-flag conditions starting with a wet track. Sterilgarda Ducati’s Shane “Shakey” Byrne controlled the wet portion of the race, leading the first 15 of 24 laps.

Meanwhile, Spies spent most of the first half of the race in fourth position before heading to the pits on lap 13. Racing on his dry R1, the factory Yamaha rider worked his way through the field and passed race leader Ruben Xaus of BMW on lap 17. Spies was unchallenged the rest of the way, winning Race One by an eight second margin over Byrne.

The battle for third was fought by two Ducati riders, Michel Fabrizio of Ducati Xerox and pole-sitter Smrz. The satellite Ducati rider tried to make one final challenge on the last lap but the factory rider Fabrizio held him off to claim third.

Ben Spies (right) and Jonathan Rea each earned victories at Misano.
Noriyuki Haga (right) has cooled off from his quick start by teammate Michel Fabrizio has been on a hot streak.

“It was a hard one, we knew from the start it was going to get dry and in that first half hats off to Shakey, he rode great,” says Spies. “I had the feeling in the rain that I wasn’t quite happy but I tried as hard as I could to stay close to Michel (Fabrizio). My box showed me that some riders were starting to come in for a change so I said that it was time to get in now. It was a hectic race, pretty eventful, not a great race but I was happy to pull this one off.”

With his commanding performance in dry conditions, Spies looked to be the favorite as the riders lined up to start Race Two. Spies was among the leaders at the start of the race but the clutch on his R1 began to overheat and slip during acceleration. Spies was able to complete the race after making some adjustments on the fly but finished in ninth.

“The clutch was just fried,” says Spies. “I couldn’t accelerate at all. It was slipping so bad I just had to baby it out of the turns. Then I adjusted the hell out of it for several laps, trying anything to make it work. It was difficult trying to race and work on the bike at the same time. At one point I came up on (Shinya) Nakano and (Yukio) Kagayama and I couldn’t get around them because the clutch kept slipping on me every time I came out of a corner. I tried to change my riding style by going in late on the brakes, but it was useless.”

Hannspree Ten Kate Honda’s Rea led most of the race with the Ducati Xerox duo of Fabrizio and points-leader Noriyuki Haga behind him. Fabrizio took the lead on lap 17 but Rea made one final pass on the last lap to win by just 0.065 seconds. Haga finished third less than half a second later.

From left, Noriyuki Haga, Jonathan Rea and Michel Fabrizio had a close finish in Race Two.“To win my first race in Italy here is really special for me before my home round next weekend at Donington,” says Rea, a native of Northern Ireland. “As everybody’s aware we switched suspensions, and tried them for the first time on Monday at Magny-Cours and the team all did a marvelous job to get me to win the race here so this is really special for them as well. I got settled into my own rhythm and Michel came past but he couldn’t out-brake me and that spared my bike from doing all the running. I could pass where I wanted to pass and I saved it to the last lap. I’m really over the moon with the win!”

Fabrizio and Haga’s second and third place finishes gave Ducati its 700th and 701st WSBK podium results. For Haga, it was also his 99th career WSBK podium.

Haga now holds a 292-244 lead over Spies in the championship standings. Fabrizio is also in the hunt with 237 points thanks to a run of eight consecutive podium finishes.

The 2009 WSBK Championship continues June 26-28 at the Donington Park circuit in Leicestershire, England.

2009 WSBK Championship top five standings (after seven rounds)
Pos. Rider Motorcycle Points
1st Noriyuki Haga Ducati 1198R 292
2nd Ben Spies Yamaha YZF-R1 244
3rd Michel Fabrizio Ducati 1198R 237
4th Jonathan Rea Honda CBR1000RR 167
5th Max Biaggi Aprilia RSV4 135