WSBK season resumes for final stretch

Spies continues title hunt in Germany

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Sep. 02, 2009
The World Superbike Championship returns from its summer hiatus with round 11 at Germany’s Nurburgring.

With four rounds remaining in the 2009 season the title is still up for grabs and American rookie Ben Spies is right in the middle of the action.

The Yamaha rider trails Ducati Xerox’s Noriyuki Haga by a mere seven points while recording 11 wins in 20 races, often on tracks he had never seen before.

“It has been great to have some time out to relax at home in the US,” says Spies. “I’m fully recharged and really excited about getting stuck into some more racing. We’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain so I’m just going to keep on giving it 100% and see what we can do to catch Nori this weekend.”

Ben Spies has surprised many observers by winning 11 of 20 WSBK races in his rookie campaign.

Spies will try to regain the momentum he carried before the series went on its summer break after the July 26 round at Brno, Czech Republic. In the previous four rounds, Spies recorded six wins, helping him break down an 88-point deficit to trail Haga by only seven.

Ducati's Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio are nursing injuries.The turnaround began after Haga crashed during qualifying at the May 31 round in Utah’s Miller Motorsports Park, before a second crash, June 26 at the Donington Park round where Haga fractured his right ulna. The nearly-six week break in the season may turn things around again, as Haga nears full health. Haga took a pair of victories at Nurburgring in 2008, so this coming round may be a good setting for a full recovery.

“I got a great result at Nurburgring last year and hope to be able to do the same again this time around,” says Haga. “It’s a really nice track though last year was pretty wet for race day which made things interesting! Anyway I’m feeling much stronger than I was at Brno and, after a relaxing holiday back home in Japan, I’m totally ready to continue the fight for the world title.”

Haga’s teammate, Michel Fabrizio, is third in the standings, trailing Spies by 46 points. Fabrizio had an excellent mid-season run, scoring ten podium results in the last twelve races, but recorded a Did Not Finish and a 12th-place result during the last two rounds. Fabrizio also took a turn in the MotoGP series as a substitute for Pramac Ducati’s Mika Kallio at the Aug. 16 round in Brno. Fabrizio retired from the race while running in last place due to a shoulder injury suffered in a practice session.

“I’m in good shape and after the long break I’m more than ready to get back on the bike and try to maintain my recent run of podiums,” says Fabrizio.

Max Biaggi and the RSV4 have impressed in Aprilia's return to WSBK racing.Also trying to maintain momentum is Aprilia’s Max Biaggi. The veteran racer and Aprilia’s new RSV4 have been one of the biggest surprises of the season. Biaggi has appeared on the podium five times for the fledgling team, including a win and two runner-up finishes in the last two rounds. Biaggi’s results put him in fifth place with 200 points, just six points behind Ten Kate Honda’s Jonathan Rea.

Despite the break, several riders are still too injured to compete in Germany.

Suzuki Alstare Brux rider Max Neukirchner will miss his home race as he continues to recover from a broken femur suffered May 10 at the Monza, Italy round. Taking Neukirchner’s place will be Karl Muggeridge from the Celani Suzuki team which has opted not to race at Nurburgring.

BMW racer Ruben Xaus will also miss the German round after breaking his femur in the Brno round. Richard Cooper, a BMW World Endurance Championship racer, will fill in for Xaus on the S1000RR.

2009 WSBK Championship top five standings (after ten rounds)
Pos. Rider Motorcycle Points
1st Noriyuki Haga Ducati 1198R 326
2nd Ben Spies Yamaha YZF-R1 319
3rd Michel Fabrizio Ducati 1198R 273
4th Jonathan Rea Honda CBR1000RR 206
5th Max Biaggi Aprilia RSV4 200