26 April 2009
Spies snatches victory from Haga
Ben Spies has won his fourth World Superbike race of the season after snatching victory from Noriyuki Haga's grasp with an outstanding overtaking move just three corners from the chequered flag.
The American had looked out of contention in third with just a handful of laps remaining, but a late spurt saw him on the back of Haga by the final revolution where he proceeded to dive down the inside of his rival at the high-speed right-hand kink at turn 15.
A dramatic finish to an exciting battle for the win that also included an inspired Leon Haslam, Spies fought his way into the reckoning having been removed from the lead on lap 13 by a charging Haga.
Before that, Spies had held a comfortable lead having finally managed to secure a good start from pole position, the American resisting the attentions of the fast-starting Max Neukirchner, while Haga and Haslam lost time attempting to overtake third place Jakub Smrz.
Once he had overtaken the Czech rider, Haga rapidly chased down Neukirchner, who in turn was close enough to be pressuring Spies for the lead of the race.
However, while he was able to resist Haga's advances for a short time, the German's hopes of victory would last no longer than lap seven when he lost the front-end of his Suzuki entering the final corner chicane and came crashing down. Remarkably, the bike would become upright again, crossing the second part of the chicane to narrowly avoid Haslam and end its breakaway in the tyre barriers.
Despite the delay of navigating Neukirchner's runaway bike, Haslam was undeterred and promptly reeled off a series of excellent lap times – including one that would break Troy Bayliss' race lap record – to find himself on the back of the lead fight.
Spies, meanwhile, was still leading, but now had his hands full of Haga, who had made himself aware to the American with a series of feigned moves towards the final corners of the lap.
However, with Haslam now keeping a watching brief in third position, Haga chose lap 13 to make his move, prompted after Spies made a slight error out of the long second turn. Subsequently running slightly wide into the hairpin, Haga pounced to take the lead, while Haslam eagerly capitalised to sweep past into the next corner too.
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