Ben Spies wins 2009 World Superbike Championship
Texan Ben Spies has won the 2009 World Superbike title in Portimao, Portugal for Yamaha.
American Ben Spies has completed a rookie World Superbike season by winning the world superbike title on his debut, as Noriyuki Haga blew his chance of taking the title with a crash in the first race. Spies rose to the occasion in the final round in Portugal, dominating race one from start to finish on his Yamaha, while Haga lost the front-end and crashed on lap seven while making up time in fifth place.
That allowed Spies to head into the final race of the year with a 15pt margin over Haga, requiring only a finish of sixth or better even if his arch-rival greeted the chequered flag.
So began a monitoring exercise for the whole 22-lap race, with Spies’ vigilant fifth place in front of 80,000 Portimao spectators more than enough to win the world title from Haga, who was a close second behind his Italian Ducati teammate, Michel Fabrizio.
“First I’ve got to thank Yamaha for giving me everything I needed to win,” said Spies. “It was really good, we did what we had to do and it was difficult to do that because the pace was quite fast and I saw that there were a couple of people behind me. I knew that if Nori won I had to be sixth, so I tried to stay out of trouble. It was spectacular, and I can’t thank Yamaha enough and everyone who’s been behind me for my first year here. It’ll sink in during the next couple of days!”
Spies’ final winning margin was 6pts (462 to 456), with the top five completed by Fabrizio (382), Aprilia’s Max Biaggi (319) and Honda’s Jonathan Rea (315). Australia’s Troy Corser was 13th on 96pts after a rollercoaster debut year on the BMW.
Spies’ rookie campaign has been phenomenal, as he set a new record for the most pole positions in a year, and followed it up with 14 stirring victories – six more than Haga. It was also Yamaha’s first individual title win since the championship began in 1988.
Spies, the sixth American to win the world superbike title, will now compete in the final round of this year’s MotoGP title at Valencia as a wildcard, ahead of a permanent move in 2010.
For Haga, it’s now the second time in three years that he’s been the championship runner-up by only a few points. But the 34-year-old from Nagoya was magnanimous in defeat.
“My compliments go to Ben who has been such a strong rival this year and even though he is going to MotoGP next year, I am sure we will remain friends,” said Haga. “All weekend I have had problems with set-up, mainly with the tyres that didn’t give me total confidence. In race one we mounted two hard tyres and they didn’t perform as we’d hoped… and unfortunately I fell even though I wasn’t pushing so hard.
“We changed bikes for race two, just to be sure, as well as changing tyres of course. This time I had more grip and was able to make a good race. Unfortunately second in the race was not enough to take the title and it’s a real pity, but I must say that I have had a great first year with this fantastic team that always provides me with a good bike.This year was a new adventure with Ducati and we’ll continue to give 100 per cent in 2010.”
After a few bursts at leading race two, Rea eventually finished behind Haga in third, following his second place in the opening. Biaggi was third in race one.
Meanwhile, Newcastle’s Broc Parkes completed his Kawasaki tenure with 11th and 12th places – and 18th place overall in the championship, while Corser was ninth in race two after technical problems in race one, to finish the year in 13th place.
WORLD SUPERSPORT – CAL CRUTCHLOW WINS WSS CHAMPIONSHIP ..GARRY MCCOY FINISHES YEAR ON A HIGH WITH 3RD PLACE IN WSS RACE
In world supersport it was mission accomplished for another debutante, Cal Crutchlow, completing a remarkable double for Yamaha – the first time a manufacturer has claimed both production-based titles in the same year since Honda in 2002.
The Portimao victory went to his major rival Eugene Laverty (Honda) who did what he had to do and won, but Crutchlow was nerveless in fourth and took home a well-deserved title.
Kenan Sofuoglu (Honda) was second at Portimao and finished the championship in third place, a result was made easier by the retirement of Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki).
Aussie Garry McCoy (Triumph) finished the year on a high in third position, two spots ahead of countryman Mark Aitchison (Honda).
Andrew Pitt (Honda) was a distant 11th and sixth in the final standings in a title defence that never really got off the ground.
WORLD SUPERBIKE race one: 22 laps
1 Ben Spies, America, Yamaha 38:15.390
2 Jonathan Rea, Great Britain, Honda +1.697
3 Max Biaggi, Italy, Aprilia +2.113
4 Shane Byrne, Great Britain, Ducati +2.757
5 Michel Fabrizio, Italy, Ducati +14.713
6 Leon Camier, Great Britain, Aprilia +20.044
7 Carlos Checa, Spain, Honda +25.634
8 Ruben Xaus, Spain, BMW +31.104
9 Matthieu Lagrive, France, Honda +36.689
10 Matteo Baiocco, Italy, Ducati +39.331
11 Broc Parkes, Australia, Kawasaki +41.827
DNF Troy Corser, BMW, Australia +5 laps
15 finishers, nine DNFs
Fastest lap and new record: Fabrizio – 1:43.529 (previous record: Troy Bayliss, 2008 – 1:43.787)
WORLD SUPERBIKE race two: 22 laps
1 Fabrizio 38:19.654
2 Haga +1.195
3 Rea +1.494
4 Byrne +5.553
5 Spies +5.842
6 Biaggi +7.374
7 Camier +9.658
8 Jakub Smrz, Czech Republic, Ducati +10.434
9 Corser +17.010
10 Sylvain Guintoli, France, Suzuki +24.509
12 Parkes +34.825
17 finishers, six DNFs
Fastest lap: Fabrizio – 1:43.720
Final superbike standings 2009 (after 14 rounds):
1 Spies 462
2 Haga 456
3 Fabrizio 382
4 Biaggi 319
5 Rea 231579
6 Leon Haslam, UK, Honda 241
7 Checa 209
8 Byrne 192
9 Tom Sykes, UK, Yamaha 176
10 Smrz 160
13 Corser 96
18 Parkes 51
22 Karl Muggeridge, Australia, Suzuki 21
Supersport race: 20 laps
1 Eugene Laverty, Ireland, Honda
2 Kenan Sofuoglu, Turkey, Honda
3 Garry McCoy, Australia, Triumph
4 Cal Crutchlow, UK, Yamaha
5 Mark Aitchison, Australia, Honda
6 Michele Pirro, Italy, Yamaha
7 Chaz Davies, Great Britain, Triumph
8 Fabien Foret, France, Yamaha
9 Barry Veneman, Netherlands, Honda
10 Miguel Praia, Portugal, Honda
11 Andrew Pitt, Australia, Honda
Final supersport standings 2009 (after 13 rounds):
1 Crutchlow 243
2 Laverty 236
3 Sofuoglu 189
4 Joan Lascorz, Spain, Kawasaki 163
5 Foret 123
6 Pitt 119
7 Anthony West, Australia, Honda 117
8 McCoy 98
9 Aitchison 93
10 Katsuaki Fujiwara, Japan, Kawasaki, 73