Ben Spies has expressed his delight at beating two of his motorcycling idols, Noriyuki Haga and Max Biaggi, on the way to a perfect World Superbike weekend at Losail, Qatar.
With a record-breaking Superpole, two race wins and a new race lap record, Spies enjoyed a flawless weekend in the Middle East, a feat made all the more impressive by the fact this is only his second WSBK race meeting and his first in Qatar.
Bringing his victory tally up to three in four attempts, Spies had to battle for victory in both races after tardy starts left him behind Haga and Biaggi on each occasion.
Nonetheless, despite dropping to fifth in race one, Spies says he was unfazed by his task as he stalked his way back up to third, before punishing minor errors by both riders on lap 14 to move into a lead he would not lose.
“I wasn't too concerned [about the slow start],” he said. “We were all bunched up and I knew I was close enough to stay with the leaders. It was important for me to get up to Max and Nori and fast as I could. You don't want to let those guys get away!”
The second race proved somewhat easier for Spies, taking just six laps to reclaim the lead and romp home a comfortable winner over Haga again.
“He [Haga} set a really good pace in the first few laps,” he said. “In the first race we were lacking just a little bit in acceleration and it was hard to race with him. In the second race I put my head down and tried to close up.
“Once I got to him I tried to keep the same rhythm going. When I passed for the lead I went as hard as I could for the next ten laps and was able to open up a gap and brought it home. It was a better race for me than the first one because I was able to concentrate on my lines and ride my own race.”
A particularly special win for him given that he was able to take on and beat two of the riders he watched whilst growing up, Spies is now setting his sights on snatching the championship lead of Haga.
“I've been a fan of both of these guys for years! They're two of my favourite riders. Nori and Max rode really well.
“It's hard to make up points on Nori when he keeps finishing second. He deserves it. Hopefully we can go to Valencia and be up front again. It was a good weekend. It won't always be like this, but we'll take them when they come.”