Ben Spies has swept to victory in the first World Superbike race of the day in Qatar after prevailing in a tense fight with Noriyuki Haga
and Max Biaggi
A second triumph for the Texan in only three races, although Spies completed the win from pole position on paper, the reality saw him forced to work hard for victory after a tardy start dropped him out of contention initially.
In fact, Spies led just four of the 18 laps, the Yamaha rider forced to trail Biaggi and Haga for much of the race before making his decisive move for victory in the latter stages.
Indeed, with Spies having previously admitted the new R1 is not easy to make good starts with, he proved his point by entering the first corner in fourth position having been swamped on the outside of the turn.
It allowed Biaggi, from third on the grid, to sweep into the lead on the Aprilia, ahead of Haga and Jakub Smrz, the Czech rider getting an uncustomary good start from the front row of the grid.
Spies even ran as low as fifth when Shinya Nakano got the better of him on lap two and it wasn't until lap five that he made it back through. To his credit though, Spies did pass Nakano in style, slipstreaming both him and Smrz to surge through from fifth to third in one go.
Setting off in pursuit of Biaggi and Haga, who had eked out a small gap to the field behind, Spies quickly reeled them in with a series of quick lap times.
Still, once there, Spies's ominous progress would go no further as he retained a watching brief in third position for the next eight laps. Instead, Biaggi and Haga were embarking on a subtle dice for the lead, Haga never really putting a determined move on Biaggi, but occasionally getting a little too close to the Aprilia to show he was trying.
With the laps ticking down gradually, Spies's hopes of leapfrogging both Haga and Biaggi looked as though they were dwindling until all three riders entered the long home straight at the end of lap 13 line astern for the first time.