Spies denied by gearshift failure.

The South African round of the World Superbike Championship will be one that Yamaha's Ben Spies will want to quickly put out of his mind, after title rival Noriyuki Haga capitalised on a poor weekend for the American to claim two race wins and an extended points advantage.

After qualifying for a record-tying sixth straight pole, Spies battled valiantly with Ducati rivals Haga and Michel Fabrizio in the first 24-lap race and, while the Yamaha squad never quite found optimal settings for its new R1 at Kyalami, Spies overcame the disadvantage with some unrelenting riding.

Although he fell behind the Ducati duo early on, he methodically closed the gap and, on lap 17, actually pushed past Fabrizio into second place - and began closing in on Haga. Coming out of the Yellow Pages section for the 20th time, however, the rear tyre stepped out as Spies gunned his machine and the resulting hard snap threw him out of the saddle and sent the bike into a high-speed wobble.

Spies sat up and was able to bring the R1 back under control but, by then, he'd lost second place and had been sufficiently gapped by Fabrizio to make recovery a tough task.

“I was just struggling,” Spies admitted after the race, “I was trying to hang on for all I was worth, but then I had that moment and that was it. I knew I was pushing past the limits and there was nothing else I could do, so I made the only decision I could and that was to back it off and finish third.”

Disappointed, Spies was determined to make a strong comeback in the second race and, after following Haga on the first lap, looked to be taking control as he moved into the lead next time around.

“We made some major changes to the set-up for race two, and I had a completely different motorcycle,” he revealed, “I figured that, if it worked, I might have a better shot at running with the Ducatis and, if it didn't, I was still confident I could put it on the podium. However, I think we actually found something with the changes.

"Then, no sooner had I gotten into the lead when I went into a turn and started hitting my normal downshifts and the shift lever broke. By the time they would have fixed it and got me back out on the track, there would have been no chance to ride back up into the points, so I got off the bike and watched the rest of the race from pit-lane.”

It was an unfortunate and frustrating end to Spies' day, and one that makes the climb back to championship contention a steep one. Second place in both races for Fabrizio was enough to take the Italian past the 24-year old into second standings, while Haga extended his lead over the American to 88 points as the series heads to his home race in Utah.

“I've made a couple of mistakes but, basically, we've given away a couple of races worth of points and you can't do that and stay in the championship chase,” Spies sighed, “However, I'm going to wake up tomorrow and train just as I would if I were leading the title. We're just going to keep going for wins like we have all season.

“It going to be good to be on a track I'm familiar with [next time out], and I'm confident we can have a good result at Miller. I want to do what I can to win as many races as possible and see if, by some miracle, we can make a comeback in the series.”

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Spies, South African WSBK Race 1 2009
Yamaha WSS Team, WSS Race, Aragon WSBK 2017
Pata Yamaha 1-2 on the grid, Race2, Aragon WSBK 2017
Akrapovic on Yamaha, Thai WSBK 2017
Exhaust on Alex Lowes Yamaha, Australian WSBK, 2017
Exhaust on Alex Lowes Yamaha, Australian WSBK, 2017
VD Mark`s Yamaha exhaust, Australian WSBK, 2017
Alex Lowes` Yamaha exhaust, Australian WSBK, 2017
Alex Lowes` Yamaha exhaust, Australian WSBK, 2017
VD Mark`s Yamaha, Australian WSBK, 2017. Photo courtesy of WorldSBK
Alex Lowes` Yamaha, Australian WSBK, 2017. Photo courtesy of WorldSBK
Russo`s Yamaha, Australian WSBK, 2017. Photo courtesy of WorldSBK
Alex Lowes - PATA Crescent Yamaha
PATA Yamaha unveils 2017 WSBK challenger
PATA Yamaha YZF-R1 for 2017 World Superbike Championship
Lowes` Yamaha, Jerez WSBK tests, January 2017
Lowes` Yamaha, Jerez WSBK tests, January 2017
Pata Yamahas, WSBK Race2, Qatar WSBK 2016

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.

shockjock - Unregistered

May 17, 2009 11:44 PM

It's clear some folks here haven't followed Ben for long. He is definitely NOT used to winning everything. Though he won the last 3 U.S. championships, it was down to the wire for 2 of the 3 (very last race at Laguna Seca one year) and not far from that the 3rd. Spies and Mladin traded 1sts and 2nds pretty much every round, and pretty evenly too. The championships went from eked-out, to finishing a bit early, but none were dominating. He knows how to settle and come from behind, and to lose, as well as just romp to wins. Note, I'm not claiming he'll take Haga, though I'd still be on him over Fabrizio for 2nd. I'm just correcting the poster who said Ben is used to winning it all. Not so.

© 1999 - 2017 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.