Six rounds into the 2009 World Superbike Championship and Ben Spies' title ambitions looked to have been dashed before they had barely started - eight rounds later and the American is celebrating becoming world champion in his first year.

It's testament to Spies' superior end to the 2009 season that he was able to break down a lead that was as much as 88 points following Kyalami, to come back and snatch the title from Noriyuki Haga at the very final round.

The statistics speak for themselves, Spies winning 14 races and 11 pole positions, a tally that already puts him equal 12th on the all-time list after just a single season with a handful of records firmly in his pocket.

While Spies' success in Portugal, which saw him take a win and a fifth place finish, was certainly aided by Noriyuki Haga's dramatic exit from race one, he still did it having been on the back foot heading to Portimao.

His triumph comes as he prepares to bid farewell to World Superbikes almost as quickly as he arrived, Spies embarking on a graduation to MotoGP with the Tech 3 Yamaha team.

On the day that the manufacturer also sealed the MotoGP and World Supersport crowns, Spies paid tribute to Yamaha for giving him a title-winning package from the off.

"First I've got to thank Yamaha for giving me everything I needed to win," he said. "It was really good, we did what we had to do and it was difficult to do that because the pace was quite fast and I saw that there were a couple of people behind me.

"I knew that if Nori won I had to be sixth, so I tried to stay out of trouble. It was spectacular; I can't thank Yamaha enough and everyone who's been behind me for my first year here. It'll sink in over the next couple of days!"

Spies will make his debut with the Tech 3 team at the Valencia season finale, joining fellow American Colin Edwards full-time for 2010. James Toseland and Cal Crutchlow will make up Yamaha WSB's line-up next season.



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