2009 MotoGP hopeful Ben Spies has won his third consecutive AMA Superbike title, with one round of the championship still to go.
The 24-year-old from Dallas, Texas, originally expected to be crowned at the final race of the season on September 28 at Laguna Seca, where he needed to finish only 19th or better to wrap up the title.
However, AMA Pro Racing announced last Friday that it had denied the appeal of Rockstar Makita Suzuki team-mate Mat Mladin, who was disqualified from both races at Virginia International Raceway in August for an illegal crankshaft. That decision gave Spies an insurmountable points lead over his team-mate and sealed the 2008 title.
"Obviously this is not the ideal way for me to clinch the championship," said Spies, who set a new AMA Superbike record of seven straight wins this summer. "Still, I'm happy for my crew who worked their butts off this year. It was a great season. We overcame a lot to win the title. I've won it just about every way imaginable now."
Regardless of infractions or appeal results, Spies was in a nearly unbeatable position going into Laguna Seca, needing only a 19th place finish to wrap up the title.
With his latest AMA title in the bag, Spies now turns his attention to this weekend's inaugural Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix - where he will make his third and presumably final MotoGP appearance for Rizla Suzuki.
Spies is seeking a full time MotoGP ride for 2009 and, with Suzuki having announced that it is keeping both Loris Capirossi and Chris Vermeulen, is tipped to sign for either Gresini Honda or JiR Honda. Ben's future should be officially confirmed this weekend.
“I'm really looking forward to racing a MotoGP bike again on American soil and I've been lucky enough to have done some laps on the Indy circuit so I am pretty comfortable with it," said Spies who, unlike the regular MotoGP riders, was able to take part in July's two-day Indy tyre test.
"I am looking for a pretty good weekend and it looks like the Suzuki has been working well over the last few races, so that should help us to be competitive. It should be fun and we'll try our best to get a good result for all the American fans that will be turning up to watch us!"
Spies has an extraordinary 90 percent podium finishing record in AMA Superbike, the highest in history. Four time 500cc world champion Eddie Lawson is next closest, with an AMA Superbike podium percentage of 77.
The last AMA Superbike champion to lift the 500cc/MotoGP crown was Nicky Hayden. Hayden won the AMA title in 2002 and MotoGP World Championship in 2006.