Spies hits back with Brno victory
26 July 2009
Ben Spies heads into the summer break just seven points behind Noriyuki Haga in the World Superbike standings after resisting a late charge by Max Biaggi to win the second race at Brno.
Spies led to the chequered flag from the second turn, but not before a breathtaking final few laps as he and Biaggi disputed the lead, the American putting on a display of precision riding to not allow his rival an opportunity to pass.
Going a long way to making up for his retirement in race one at the hands of Michel Fabrizio, Spies is now just a handful of points behind Noriyuki Haga. Even so, the margin could have been smaller but for Haga's outstanding determination to finish in sixth position.
Spies was in charge of the race from early on, taking just one corner to dispatch of Troy Corser, the BMW man once again getting the run down into the first turn from sixth on the grid to briefly lead.
Spies was promptly followed by Fabrizio and Biaggi and, as expected, the trio quickly began asserting their authority over the competition.
Although an error by Fabrizio early on in the race allowed Spies an advantage, both he and countryman Biaggi continued to keep the leader honest, eventually reducing the gap so that all three riders were covered by less than a second.
However, Spies' cause was being aided by Biaggi's persistent attempts to overtake Fabrizio. Indeed, while the Aprilia appeared to have an advantage over the Ducati in a straight line, Biaggi was evidently having problems getting the bike stopped in time to complete the manoeuvre.
It meant Biaggi managed to overtake Fabrizio on four occasions, only for his rival to coolly sweep back through when he promptly ran wide.
After several laps of harassment, though, Biaggi finally made his move stick with five laps to go. Immediately setting the fastest lap of the race, Biaggi quickly latched onto the back of Spies and began his assault on the Yamaha man.
However, other than the odd feigned move and close encounters mid-corner, Spies was inch perfect to prevent Biaggi from ever getting into a position where he could prise away the race lead.
Battling it out until the very final corner, Biaggi had to settle for second position behind a delighted Spies, the American putting his race one devastation behind him as he celebrated across the line.
Behind Biaggi, who enjoyed his best World Superbike weekend in almost two years, Fabrizio was a close third having run out of laps to try and regain second from his fellow Roman.
Some distance back, Ten Kate Honda were once again the best of the rest, although the positions were reversed to have Jonathan Rea leading Carlos Checa across the finish line.
Despite Spies' win, Haga can be happy to have emerged from the event still intact after another heroic performance in race two. Getting up inside the top ten from the start, Haga took on – and beat – Shane Byrne and Troy Corser before holding off Tom Sykes to finish a fine sixth and protect some of his threatened lead overall. Haga now has more than a month to get back in full fitness for the final four rounds of the season.
Following his retirement in race one, Sykes recovered from a poor start to finish exactly where he started in seventh position, the Briton managing to fend off a hard charging Byrne and Jakub Smrz, the Czech rider being cheered on to ninth by his home crowd. Despite fading as the race wore on, tenth place Corser can nonetheless consider this to have been a breakthrough weekend for the BMW team.
Unable to match the pace of his team-mate, Aprilia's Shinya Nakano crossed the line in 11th position, ahead of Leon Haslam, who was another to fall away as the race progressed. Matthieu Lagrive, Ryuichi Kiyonari and Lorenzo Lanzi rounded out the points paying positions having benefitted from crashes for Makoto Tamada and Yukio Kagayama, as well as a retirement for John Hopkins.