American Ben Spies made it a clean sweep at the ninth round of 14 in the World Superbike Championships at Donington Park in England at the weekend, blowing away the competition to take both race wins as his main rival and series leader Noriyuki Hago crashed out.
Spies (Yamaha) slashed Haga’s lead in the overall standings to 14 points following his dominant double around the Derbyshire circuit.
Throwing the title race wide open once again, Spies is the closest he has been to Haga (Ducati) since the end of the second event at Qatar, a fact that hasn’t been lost on him.
Even so, he is aware that the championship could have a substantially different look to it were it not for his four retirements and other delays, such as those at Monza and Misano.
“The title is possible again now,” he said. “It is very unfortunate for Nori, because that was a bad crash. We have to capitalise when things go wrong, because we’ve had our fair share of bad luck too. It is good that we are within striking distance, but if it wasn’t for the problems we’ve had then we’d be having a really great year.
“I can smell the lead and it is possible that after one weekend we could be leading, so we just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing, but without the mistakes.”
With Spies now potentially just one race from snatching the title lead for the first time this season, he admits it takes some of the pressure off him now.
“How I rode the first race is how I like to ride,” he added. “We didn’t go over the limit and we were riding hard the whole time. It means that when there is a day that Nori is untouchable, I don’t have to get a great result.”
Sadly for the title fight, it seems Spies may not be challenged from taking Haga’s advantage following the Ducati rider’s violent accident during the second race. Taken to hospital with a suspected fractured vertebra, Spies revealed deep concern for his rival and friend.
“We were supposed to have a barbecue this weekend, but it doesn’t sound like he is doing too good right now. I gave Davide Tardozzi [Haga’s team manager] my number and told him to call me. I just want to know he is fine. I saw the replay and it was a bad one – hopefully he will be at Brno.”
Medical tests have, however, revealed that Haga’s injury — a fractured vertebra — could be an injury from an earlier accident, meaning he won’t undergo surgery; His fractured wrist, however, will be operated on.
Race one saw Spies take an early lead, closely followed by Aprilia rider Max Biaggi. No matter how hard Biaggi tried he was unable to close the final gap to challenge Spies and settled for second at the flag.
Race two saw Spies again take an early lead, repeating the performance of Miller as he gained nearly a second a lap as he pulled away until he had over a 7.4 second advantage. He ran a lonely race at the front to claim his second win of the day, a separate class to the following pack.
Spies’ team-mate, Tom Sykes, had a less than perfect start to the first of his home races. Coming in hot to the hairpin on the ninth lap he braked hard over the bumpy surface and lost the front of the bike, crashing out.
1. Ben Spies USA Yamaha WSB YZF R1 23 laps
2. Max Biaggi ITA Aprilia Racing RSV-4 +7.156s
3. Noriyuki Haga JPN Ducati Xerox 1198R +10.968s
4. Leon Haslam GBR Stiggy Motorsport Honda CBR1000RR +18.843s
5. Shane Byrne GBR Sterilgarda Ducati 1098R +19.125s
6. Shinya Nakano JPN Aprilia Racing RSV-4 +21.286s
7. Jonathan Rea GBR HANNspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000 +23.644s
8. John Hopkins USA Stiggy Motorsport Honda CBR1000RR +32.849s
9. Jakub Smrz CZE Guandalini Racing Ducati 1098R +32.904s
10. Ryuichi Kiyonari JPN Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR +33.192s
11. Carlos Checa ESP HANNspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR +34.535s
12. Michel Fabrizio ITA Ducati Xerox 1198R +35.093s
13. Leon Camier GBR Airwaves Yamaha YZF R1 +35.441s
14. Lorenzo Lanzi ITA DFX Corse Ducati 1098R +39.034s
15. Ruben Xaus ESP BMW Motorrad S1000RR +41.067s
1. Ben Spies USA Yamaha WSB YZF R1 23 laps
2. Leon Haslam GBR Stiggy Motorsport Honda CBR1000RR +6.622s
3. Michel Fabrizio ITA Ducati Xerox 1198R +6.816s
4. Shane Byrne GBR Sterilgarda Ducati 1098R +7.349s
5. Tom Sykes GBR Yamaha WSB YZF R1 +8.145s
6. Leon Camier GBR Airwaves Yamaha YZF R1 +13.463s
7. Ryuichi Kiyonari JPN Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR +15.751s
8. James Ellison GBR Airwaves Yamaha YZF R1 +16.837s
9. Ruben Xaus ESP BMW Motorrad S1000RR +22.891s
10. Simon Andrews GBR MSS Colchester Kawasaki ZX-10R +30.347s
11. Lorenzo Lanzi ITA DFX Corse Ducati 1098R +30.622s
12. Matthieu Lagrive FRA HANNspree Althea Honda CBR1000RR +31.562s
13. Yukio Kagayama JPN Alstare Suzuki GSX-R 1000K9 +32.148s
14. Broc Parkes AUS Kawasaki SRT ZX-0R +32.607s
15. Jonathan Rea GBR HANNspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000 +32.806s
1 Noriyuki Haga 308.0
2 Ben Spies 294.0
3 Michel Fabrizio 257.0
4 Jonathan Rea 177.0
5 Leon Haslam 167.0
6 Max Biaggi 155.0
7 Tom Sykes 141.0
8 Jakub Smrz 115.0
9 Carlos Checa 114.0
10 Shane Byrne 113.0
11 Ryuichi Kiyonari 113.0
12 Yukio Kagayama 94.0
13 Shinya Nakano 81.0
14 Regis Laconi 77.0
15 Max Neukirchner 75.0
16 Ruben Xaus 50.0
17 Troy Corser 36.0
18 Broc Parkes 27.0
19 John Hopkins 17.0
20 Leon Camier 13.0