14 March 2009
Spies takes first race win in Qatar
For Haga, it was the ideal opportunity to try and slipstream the rapid RSV-4, but for Spies it was an even better chance to capitalise on the draught from both bikes. So when Haga gave up on passing Biaggi, he was caught off guard long enough for Spies to instead sweep through into second place.
With a new rival to contend with, Biaggi kept up his momentum but he too was caught unawares when a slight error into turn six allowed Spies to dive up the inside, forcing the Aprilia to sit up and scramble back into second position.
Once in the lead, there was no going back for Spies as he used the clear circuit ahead to put in some strong late lap times and forge a gap between himself and Biaggi and Haga, the pair still squabbling, but now for a less prestigious second place.
That battle raged until the chequered flag, with Haga finally sweeping past Biaggi at the start of the penultimate lap. It was a move that was replicated by his rival on the final lap, but not so well executed, Biaggi running wide into turn one and gifting the place back.
Neither could do anything about Spies though, who wound up a fairly comfortable two second winner, although Haga's decisive second means the gap between them in the standings sits at 15 points in the Japanese rider's favour.
Although disappointed to have ended up third having led for the majority of the race, Biaggi and Aprilia will be delighted to be up on the podium so early on in their World Superbike endeavour. Furthermore, it was a joy that was compounded when Nakano held on for a similarly impressive fourth position.
The former MotoGP rider's cause was aided by a fall for Smrz, who looked to be on course for a career best result when he crashed from fifth position on the final corner of lap seven.
He wasn't the only rider to suffer problems, Michel Fabrizio crashing out of seventh position, while Max Neukirchner endured a spectacular high-side on lap six having already fallen to the back of the field with a trip across the gravel on lap two.
Their mishaps allowed Carlos Checa to record a good top five result for himself and Ten Kate Honda, the Spaniard having to work hard for the position as he resisted the attentions of British pair Shane Byrne and Tom Sykes.
Byrne enjoyed a steady race in sixth position, a considerable improvement on his double DNF in Australia, although Sykes will be frustrated that a poor first lap – one that dropped him from fifth to 12th – prevented him from finishing any better than seventh in the end.
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