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Spies resists Biaggi for Donington win
28 June 2009
Ben Spies held firm in the face of race long pressure from Max Biaggi to claim his ninth World Superbike victory of the season in race one at Donington Park, while Biaggi survived a last lap scare to claim his first podium since round two in Qatar.
Spies and Biaggi had held their grid positions into turn one at the start of the race, with world championship leader Noriyuki Haga leaping from sixth to third.
The Ducati Xerox star stuck with Spies and Biaggi for the opening laps, but then began to fade steadily backwards, sitting 2.5sec adrift by the halfway stage of the 23 laps and over ten seconds behind at the finish.
Spies officially won by 7.156sec, but that was only because Biaggi's engine died as he exited the Fogarty Esses for the final time.
Assuming he was low on fuel, something which is still to be confirmed, the Roman frantically rocked his Aprilia RSV4 from side-to-side and was rewarded when it sprang back into life, allowing him to claim his third podium of the season.
Prior to that incident, Biaggi had shadowed Spies for the entire race. The former grand prix star gained ground on Spies' Yamaha through the latter part of the lap, while Spies pulled a few bikelengths out on the exit of the final turn and down Craner Curves.
Realising Biaggi was (apparently) going the distance, Spies seemed to save a little extra for the last lap and was a relatively safe 0.688sec in front as the lap began and, even without Biaggi's problem, looked to have victory in the bag.
Spies will start race two a reduced 39 points behind Haga, who finished a lonely race eight seconds clear of fourth placed Leon Haslam. The Stiggy Honda rider earned the top Brit finish by overtaking countryman Shane Byrne with seven laps to go.
But the Sterilgarda Ducati rider refused to be shaken off and was just a few tenths behind Haslam at the line. Biaggi's Aprilia team-mate Shinya Nakano was sixth with Hannspree Ten Kate Honda's Jonathan Rea fighting his way forwards from twelfth on the grid to seventh.
John Hopkins made an impressive return to a track he knows well from MotoGP by guiding his Stiggy machine from 13th on lap one to eighth, a tenth in front of Guandalini's Jakub Smrz, with former BSB champion Ryuichi Kiyonari completing the top ten for Ten Kate Honda.
Carlos Checa and particularly Haga's team-mate Michel Fabrizio will have expected much better than eleventh and twelfth, while BSB leader and Donington wild-card Leon Camier salvaged 13th from 17th on the grid, having been just 21st at the end of lap one.
Airwaves Yamaha team-mate James Ellison crashed out of tenth on lap 14, while fellow Brit Tom Sykes suffered his first non-finish of the year when he fell from his R1 while holding seventh on lap seven. Ellison was ok despite a heavy landing in the gravel, but Sykes headed for the medical centre to have his back examined.
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