WSBK set for cliffhanger finale
The World Superbike title is set for a showdown between Spies and Haga after Magny Cours results.
The 2009 World Superbike title is set to be decided at the final round held at the Portamao circuit in Portugal on October 25th..
Ducati’s Noriyuki Haga leads the championship by 10 points after a win and a second placing at Magny Cours, with title rival Ben Spies grabbing the other win, but slipping to a frustrating fourth in Race 2. After clinching a record-breaking 10th pole position on Saturday, Spies led the opening 23 lap race from start to finish to win his 13th race of the year from a slow-starting but fast-finishing Haga.
That gave Spies back the title lead by 2pts, before Haga bounced back with an all-the-way win in race two ahead of Biaggi and Rea.
Meanwhile, Spies could only manage fourth with a front tyre problem, and he covered the 101km race distance a whopping 23 seconds slower than he did in race one. It’s a shortfall that could not have come at a worse time.
“Honestly I’m just super disappointed with the second race,” said Spies. “We made a rear tyre choice which was neither better nor worse, but the front tyre we had on in the second race was hard to go at a pace with.”
“I was consistently half a second off what we were doing in practice. I’m honestly surprised we didn’t finish in 10th with the way the bike felt. Even if we had won today we would still go to Portimao having to win both races so it doesn’t really change too much.”
“For sure this is an important win for me,” said Haga.”Especially after Nurburgring I don’t sleep every night because I am always thinking about the position in the championship. I’m really happy with this second place and win. My chief engineer made a good setting for race two and the feeling was good for race pace distance.
“I couldn’t make an advantage from Max (Biaggi) and Johnny (Rea), but concentrated on the last laps to take this win, which gave the manufacturers’ title to Ducati. Now we go to Portimao where Ben and I will fight for the 2009 title – I can’t wait.”
Haga’s teammate Fabrizio was a lonely fourth in race one, but then his already slim title hopes evaporated altogether when he crashed in race two. However, Ducati had already done enough to win a phenomenal 16th constructors’ title in 27 years of WSBK competition.
Other than Haga, Biaggi was the only other rider to finish on the podium in both races, with the Italian veteran third in race one.
Troy Corser (BMW) was ninth and 10th, while Karl Muggeridge (Suzuki) fought back from a crash in the opener to post an excellent eighth in race two. Broc Parkes (Kawasaki) added just 1pt to his championship tally after a 15th in race two following earlier gearbox problems.
“The bike’s progress continues every time we go out – and that’s good news,” said Corser. “My results today are okay and I supposed it’s probably what was expected, but I am a little disappointed because we are so close to a great result and I’d like it to happen sooner, instead of later.
“This weekend the bike wanted to wheelspin and wheelie and we have to control these things if we want to progress more quickly. My crew chief told me that my race distance time today would have been good enough to win the race last year! That surprises me, but it shows just how competitive the series is this year and the strength of our rivals.”