WSBK: 2009 Monza results

Heartbreak and redemption for Spies

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, May. 11, 2009
Italy’s historic Monza circuit hosted an eventful weekend of World Superbike races May 10, featuring a couple of first-chicane crashes, a race leader running out of gas on the final lap and another race leader colliding with a bird.

The Monza round began with Yamaha’s Ben Spies continuing his streak of Superpole victories. Spies won the pole handily, not even needing to use his qualifying tire until the final round of the Superpole.

Starting at the front in Race One may have helped Spies avoid being caught in a series of crashes on the first chicane that forced a restart. Kawasaki factory rider Makoto Tamada started things off by falling just before the corner. Tamada’s Kawasaki ZX-10R slid across the grass and onto the track again, setting off a chain reaction that took down Guandalini Ducati’s Brendan Roberts, BMW’s Troy Corser, Honda Althea’s Tommy Hill, and Suzuki Alstare’s Max Neukirchner who was among the race leaders at the time.

Neukirchner came out with the worst of the incident, breaking several bones including his right femur. Roberts received several bruises while Corser was fortunate to escape serious injury when a sliding motorcycle hit him in the back of his helmet.

“I got hit by another bike on the first lap of the first race and was lucky not to get hurt,” says Corser. “I was on my knees and a bike caught the back of my head and forced my helmet down on to the tarmac and gave it a big thump. I managed to get off the track and on to the grass, but I was winded so I just laid down on the grass.”

Michel Fabrizio (84) earned his first career WSBK win at Monza.Corser was able to restart but was later knocked out of the race by another first-lap crash.

Ducati Xerox’s Michel Fabrizio led the first few laps after the restart with teammate Noriyuki Haga second and Spies third.

Spies made his charge on the fifth lap and took was leading by lap six. The three-time AMA Superbike Champion was poised to take his fifth win of the year when his Yamaha R1 suddenly ran out of fuel going into the final stretch of the race. Fabrizio took advantage of Spies’ problem to take his first career WSBK victory.

“Well, I really didn’t expect this win, even though I’d been up at the front for the past two days,” says Fabrizio. “I had a small problem when the gearing hit neutral after Ben and I touched and I was not able to find second. He got away a bit from me but I thought I had to fight until the very end because I was convinced I could do it. But I think his fuel finished, a real pity for him.”

Haga finished second while Aprilia’s Max Biaggi was third across the line. Biaggi’s podium result in his native Italy was soon rescinded after he was penalized 20 seconds for cutting a chicane. Ten Kate Honda’s Ryuichi Kiyonari was bumped up to third. Spies was eventually able to coast across the finish line in 15th.

Race Two began with series leader Haga in front. Haga’s lead was short-lived however, as a bird struck him on his right arm.

Despite a heartbreaking result in Race One, Ben Spies (right) gained ground on Noriyuki Haga in the championship standings.
Retired 2008 WSBK Champion Troy Bayliss made an appearance at Monza before heading to Mugello to test the Desmosedici GP9 for Ducati's MotoGP project.

“Right at the start of Race Two I was hit by a bird on my right arm; it hurt a lot and I lost all sensation, with strong pain and pins and needles in my right arm and hand,” says Haga. “I tried to continue to race but it was too difficult to ride and as a result I unfortunately fell. Yes it hurts but I should be back in top shape very soon.”

With his chief rival out of the race, Spies was able to take the easy victory, leading every lap and opening a commanding lead over the opposition. Spies eventually eased up in the second half of the race to avoid a repeat of his first race fuel problems.

“Race One was a tough pill to swallow, it was a hard one to get by but that’s racing I guess. Race Two, I had a clear strategy and made sure I got into a really good rhythm in the first 12 to 14 laps to build a safety buffer,” says Spies. “Obviously we had a problem at the end of race one which I didn’t want to repeat so slowed a bit there and short shifted a bit to make sure everything was good to the end. The bike was good and could have run fast times all the way through but I wanted to make sure we got this one in the bag.”

Fabrizio finished second to cap off the best race weekend of his WSBK career. Kiyonari finished 0.145 seconds behind to earn another third-place result.

Despite a disappointing Race One result, Spies managed to trim six points off of Haga’s lead in the championship standings. Haga now holds a 200-146 lead over Spies while Fabrizio’s two podium finishes keep him in the championship hunt.

2008 AMA Formula Xtreme Champion Jake Zemke made his WSBK debut at Monza, racing for Stiggy Honda in place of the injured John Hopkins. Zemke finished 18th in Race One and 20th in Race Two.

The 2009 World Superbike Championship continues May 15-17 in Kyalami, South Africa.

2009 World Superbike Championship top five standings (after seven events)
Pos. Rider Motorcycle Points
1st Noriyuki Haga Ducati 1098R 200
2nd Ben Spies Yamaha YZF-R1 146
3rd Michel Fabrizio Ducati 1098R 125
4th Leon Haslam Honda CBR1000RR 103
5th Tom Sykes Yamaha YZF-R1 90