WSBK: 2009 Nurburgring results

Spies takes over top spot

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Sep. 08, 2009
Ben Spies has taken the lead in the World Superbike Championship after a win and a runner-up finish in Germany.

The Yamaha rider leapfrogs over Ducati Xerox’s Noriyuki Haga who finished second in Race One before crashing out of Race Two in the Sept. 6 round at Nurburgring.

Haga qualified on the pole for the first time this season and took advantage of his position to take an early lead in Race One after an early crash forced a restart.

Spies moved into third after the restart behind Haga and Ten Kate Honda’s Jonathan Rea. Spies outbraked Rea on lap three to move into second. The two riders swapped the lead again briefly before Spies pulled away and began stalking Haga.

The veteran Haga held onto the lead for ten laps in the 20-lap race before Spies made his move at the final chicane and took over the lead. The two riders continued in close formation until a mistake from Haga with a few laps remaining put Spies out of reach.

Ben Spies sits atop the WSBK standings for the very first time.

“The first race was tough, Rea and I battled a bit for the first couple of laps and Nori got away so I had to reel him back in, using a lot of my tire to do that,” says Spies. “When I got to him I knew he was really strong in the first few corners so I slowed the pace a bit and controlled him through there. With three laps to go we pulled the pin and got back down to some fast laps.”

For Haga, the results showed he is near full health after a shoulder injury hampered his previous efforts. The final results however trimmed Haga’s lead over Spies to only two points heading into Race Two.

“I’m not so happy, I wanted to win and I felt sure I could win that race,” says Haga. “I tried to overtake Ben everywhere but in some parts he was quicker than me and in some parts my bike was quicker than his, but I couldn’t get past him, he was a little faster than me so I had to settle for second place.”

Ten Kate Honda’s Carlos Checa finished third after outracing his teammate Rea for the final podium spot.

“My start wasn’t good, but we had the pace during the race. And starting from behind it was fun, a good fight until the end with Johnny (Rea),” says Checa.

Aggressive riding from the two Ten Kate Hondas led to Noriyuki Haga's crash in Race Two.

Haga got off to a good start in Race Two, taking an early lead with Checa and Rea on his tail. Checa passed Haga on the third lap, but when Rea attempted his own move, he made contact with Haga, causing the Ducati rider to fall. Haga was unhurt in the crash but was unable to continue racing.

“I tried to ride my own race and mind my own business,” says Rea. “I got a really bad start and had to get a bit aggressive with people in turn one because I had to regroup and come from a long way back. I had to put moves down quick, because I really messed up Race One which was all my fault. We changed nothing in between, my guys sat me down and explained exactly what I had to do to win. I gave it all today, the package was really strong.”

With Haga out of the race, Spies had the chance to take over the championship standings. Spies overtook Checa but fell short of catching Rea who won by 0.786 seconds. Checa finished third to cap off a successful week for Ten Kate Honda.

“The track was a lot cooler and it was definitely much quicker,” says Spies. “I didn’t get off the line good and a bunch of people came round me in turn one and I lost almost two seconds to the lead. I came up to the front but by the time I got there I just didn't quite have the rear grip to get out of the corners in the last five laps. Johnny was not making any mistakes so hats off to him for winning. It wasn’t my race, but we’ve got the championship lead now.”

Spies now holds a 364-346 lead over Haga in the championship standings with three rounds remaining in the 2009 schedule. The WSBK Championship continues Sept. 27 at Imola, Italy.

2009 WSBK Championship top five standings (after eleven rounds)
Pos. Rider Motorcycle Points
1st Ben Spies Yamaha YZF-R1 364
2nd Noriyuki Haga Ducati 1198R 346
3rd Michel Fabrizio Ducati 1198R 289
4th Jonathan Rea Honda CBR1000RR 244
5th Max Biaggi Aprilia RSV4 224