6 September 2009
Spies beats Haga to close gap
Ben Spies has moved to within two points of the World Superbike Championship lead after catching, passing and resisting Noriyuki Haga to win the opening race at the Nurbirgring.
The American recovered from an early delay during an exchange with Jonathan Rea to haul himself back into contention and pass his rival mid-way through the race. Once there, Haga battled hard to try and regain control, but save for a failed move three laps from the finish, he was unable to find his way back through.
A potentially pivotal moment for this year's title race, just two points now separate the pair with seven races remaining, the closest anyone has gotten to Haga since the start of the season.
Spies was made to work hard for victory, however, the American not getting the best of getaways from fifth on the on the grid.
The race itself was being started for the second time following a red flag on the opening lap of the first start, prompted after a nasty accident involving John Hopkins and the Kawasakis of Broc Parkes and Makoto Tamada. Hopkins had fallen from his Stiggy Honda and was then clipped by another bike running off the circuit, both the American and Tamada requiring medical attention and forcing the race to be halted.
At the restart, Haga got away well from pole position, holding off Leon Haslam into the opening turn, the Briton choosing an opportunistic line around the outside before being baulked and sucked back into the mid-field.
It was Troy Corser who inherited the position instead, ahead of Rea and Spies, although both would be past the BMW by turn four when the Northern Irishman dived inside his rival and pulled Spies through.
Behind Corser, Max Biaggi made it five different manufacturers in the top five, while Michel Fabrizio and Fonsi Nieto followed in sixth and seventh, the pair going on to have an enjoyable tussle for the position before it was eventually decided in the factory Ducati rider's favour.
Up at the front, Haga's quick getaway was being reeled in through the opening laps, the championship leader having Rea latched on to his Ducati, while Spies himself was having to contend with the attentions of a feisty-looking Corser.
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