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Spies doubles up, Haga comes down hard

28 June 2009

Ben Spies is now just 14 points behind World Superbike Championship leader Noriyuki Haga after the American rookie romped to his second victory of the day at Donington Park, while Haga suffered a heavy fall.

Spies was the only rider to claim two podium finishes on Sunday, with Max Biaggi - second in race one - falling from the runner-up spot on lap four of race two. The Roman, who momentarily took the lead from Spies into turn one, then clashed with Alessandro Polita in his haste to rejoin the race and eventually finished 21st and last for Aprilia.

Haga, a lonely third in race one, held that same position early in race two before being promoted to second by Biaggi's error. But Haga held the position for less than a lap before a heavy crash through the fast Coppice turn, heading onto the back straight.

It was the same corner where Ducati Xerox predecessor Troy Bayliss lost the end of his finger in 2007 and Haga was hit repeatedly by his bike as he tumbled roughly to a halt. The Japanese was eventually able to walk slowly away, with the support of marshals, but his title lead over Spies has taken an even bigger battering.

The Yamaha star, who has suffered four non-scores of his own this season, rode into the distance to claim his tenth victory of the year by 6.622sec after backing off in the closing stages.

Five rounds, ten races and a potential 250 points remain before the end of the 2009 WSBK season, starting next time out at Brno.

Behind Spies, a three-way fight for second between Haga's team-mate Michel Fabrizio, Stiggy Honda's Leon Haslam and Sterilgarda Ducati's Shane Byrne raged right to the flag - with a third Briton, Tom Sykes, close enough to pounce on any mistakes.

The last lap began with Haslam, Fabrizio, Byrne and Sykes covered by 1.4sec and with roughly equal track between them. Haslam rode a mistake free last lap to equal his best finish of the season so far, while Fabrizio returned to the podium after a lowly twelfth in race one.

Byrne improved one place on his race one result, while Sykes scored solid points after his first DNF of the season in race one.

British Superbike championship leader Leon Camier fought his way from 17th to sixth for Airwaves Yamaha, with former British Superbike champion Ryuichi Kiyonari (Ten Kate Honda) narrowly separating Camier from team-mate James Ellison.

Ruben Xaus claimed a welcome ninth for BMW with wild-card Simon Andrews an excellent tenth - from just 26th on the grid - to finish as the top Kawasaki rider. A bad day for Suzuki saw the top GSX-R1000 of Yuki Kagayama cross the line in 13th position, with new team-mate Blake Young 17th.

Joining Haga and Biaggi in hitting the asphalt was Biaggi's team-mate Shinya Nakano, who highsided spectacularly on the exit of the Old Hairpin while holding an early third, plus Carlos Checa (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda), Jakub Smrz (Guandalini Ducati) and AMA star Jamie Hacking (PBM Kawasaki).

Hannspree Ten Kate Honda's Jonathan Rea spun out of sixth at the final turn on lap two before finishing 15th.

Stiggy Honda's John Hopkins, an impressive eighth in only his third WSBK race earlier in the day, didn't start race two due to pain from his healing injuries.


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