With double triumph at Donington
Ben Spies (Yamaha World Superbike) pulled off another amazing double triumph in the ninth round of the Hannspree FIM Superbike World Championship in front of 61,000 spectators at Donington Park.
The Texan has now reduced the 48 point
gap at the top of the table to 14 from Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox), who crashed in race 2, picking up a broken vertebra in the process.
Haga's Italian team-mate Michel Fabrizio was third in race 2 and is now 51 points behind. Aprilia had a good first race, with Max Biaggi second at the finish, while the best of the numerous British platoon present at Donington was Leon Haslam (Stiggy Racing Honda), who finished second to Spies in race 2.
Spies continued to steamroller his way to the wins in World Superbike as he took his ninth victory of the year in the first race. After setting his eighth pole in qualifying, the Texan rider dominated the 23-lap race but was shadowed all the way by Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing). The Italian ran faultlessly in second until the final lap, when Ben upped the ante to power to the chequered flag, but Biaggi also encountered a fuel problem a couple of hundred metres from the flag and risked losing out on second. This was Biaggi's first podium since Qatar.
Third went to point leader Haga, who limited the damage in a race where he was not in a position to challenge for the win. In the all-British battle for fourth place, Haslam got the better of Shane Byrne (Sterilgarda Ducati). Aprilia's excellent performance was completed by a sixth place for Shinya Nakano. Home idol and Misano winner Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) could only finish in seventh, ahead of John Hopkins (Stiggy Racing Honda). Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) had a gear change problem and could only finish 12th, while Ruben Xaus scored one point for BMW.
Ben Spies: “It was a tough race for us, Max was there the whole time and we were both able to do quick laps. I got a bit of a gap then made a couple of mistakes and he got back on me. The last three laps I rode as hard as I could, we got down to the 30s, then I couldn't hear Max coming into the chicane on the last lap so knew something was wrong and I took the last corners easy. We can't be too conservative now, we have to claw back and get a whole lot of points in a couple of races.”
Max Biaggi: “I am very happy with this result after a very hard decision we made in free practice and qualifying. Yesterday we found a way to go fast and we made the right choice in tyres and the balance was correct. In the warm-up we had some problems but for the race we fixed most of them. Just on the last lap at the last chicane we had some trouble, I don't know what, the bike just stopped and then went back again in the last few metres before the flag. I think I deserved second!”
Noriyuki Haga: “I tried to do my best but the front two guys were very fast. I tried to catch up for the victory but I had to settle for third position. Of course during the laps I tried to push and catch them up but it was quite difficult. Our package was quite different but for the next race we try to change something to improve the riding of the bike.”
Spies also dominated the second race, but this time without any pressure from his rivals. The Yamaha man immediately pulled away at the start to pick up a seven second lead, which he administered easily to pick up his tenth win of the year.
Spies' double coincided with a disaster for Haga, who crashed out of second place on lap 5 while trying to make up ground on the leader. The Japanese rider was taken to hospital in Derby with a fractured vertebra and other injuries.
Race 2 saw a British rider on the podium, thanks to Haslam, who held off Fabrizio. With the outcome of this race, the Italian keeps alive his title chances. Byrne put on another good show, finishing fourth ahead of fellow Brit Tom Sykes. Xaus again scored points for BMW, this time with a positive ninth place. Both Aprilia riders crashed out, Biaggi suffering a hairline crack in his right foot in the process, but remounting to finish 21st, while John Hopkins (Stiggy Racing Honda) did not make it to the start of race 2, the still-injured American totally exhausted after his race 1 efforts
Ben Spies: “It was a picture perfect weekend, I know Haga had a big crash and hope he's OK. That's not the way you want to do it but you've got to capitalize when things go wrong. The track was definitely hot in the second race and a little bit slick so we made some changes to the bike that made it better. Fortunately we didn't have to push to the absolute limit but it all worked great today.”
Leon Haslam: “We've been struggling for the past few rounds with unknown circuits and I really wanted to get on that podium today. I feel good, obviously feel sorry for Haga because I was pushing him hard and I was pretty happy to get second. In the first race I was really suffering from chatter but everyone in the team has been behind me all weekend so a big thanks to them.”
Michel Fabrizio: “Today Ben was very fast and it was impossible to catch him. In the first race I had a problem with the gear change, while in the second I had a great battle with Haslam. I am very happy with the result, but very sorry for Haga and his crash.”
Coventry man Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha World Supersport) had a terrific homecoming race at the Donington circuit as he shrugged off the broken ankle he picked up in qualifying to take a dominant fourth win of the year.
His chief rival in the title battle Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda), together with Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki Provec) tried hard in the early stages, but the Irishman crashed at the Melbourne Hairpin and the Spaniard had to take second best after Crutchlow upped the pace in the final part. Laverty rejoined and worked his way back up the field from 22nd place to fifth overall.
It was a great result for veteran Australian Garry McCoy, who gave Triumph its first ever podium in Supersport. Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) could only finish fourth and is now 64 points away from the top of the standings, while team-mate Andrew Pitt fared even worse to finish in tenth. Gianluca Vizziello (Stiggy Racing Honda) scored his best result of the year in seventh behind Barry Veneman (George White Ten Kate Honda).