Jonathan Rea has won his second career World Superbike race at the Nurburgring, but it is Ben Spies that steals the headlines after assuming the championship lead courtesy of a retirement for Noriyuki Haga.
In what could be considered the
pivotal moment for this year's title race, Haga's accident, prompted by contact with Rea, means Spies leaves Germany with the lead in the overall standings for the first time this year.
Haga was dicing with Rea for the lead of the race when the pair collided at the opening turn on lap five, the Japanese rider having run wide before coming back onto line just as Rea was attempting to slip back up the inside.
Making contact, while Rea was able to continue, Haga couldn't remain upright and was forced to lay his Ducati Xerox down. Although it was a low speed accident, Haga was unable to get going again.
Prior to that, Haga had been distracted by the attentions of Rea and his Ten Kate Honda team-mate Carlos Checa, both of whom set a blistering pace in the opening laps. Indeed, Rea found himself down in eighth position from second on the grid after the first few bends, but quickly scythed his way back into contention to be on the back of Checa by the end of lap two,
Checa, meanwhile, was applying his own pressure to Haga and even moved into the lead of a race for the first time this season on lap three. While Haga and Rea both managed to find their way through again on lap four, the Ducati man couldn't resist the charging Northern Irishman as he swept in front almost straight away.
Not to be outdone, Haga used the tow down the home straight at the start of lap five to dive down the inside of the Honda at turn one, the action duly leading on to their imminent coming together.
Haga's fall, in the middle of the circuit, sent the following riders scattering, with Michel Fabrizio losing out in particular as he took drastic avoiding action to miss his team-mate. By contrast, Spies was the big winner, Haga's fall coming at a moment when he appeared to be struggling for ultimate pace.
With a poor start leaving him in seventh, Spies had made no progress before his rival's fall, but leapt three positions straight away, before going on to dispatch of Carlos Checa for third on lap nine at the Esses.