To say that three-time AMA Superbike champion Ben Spies has been setting the World Superbike Championship on fire is surely a candidate for understatement of the year. In the young Texan's rookie year, he has learned tracks with the ease of a seasoned veteran, and been consistently among those riders in the lead group fighting for the win at the end of a race. The only times he hasn't been in that group were related to bike problems, with one or two mistakes thrown in for good measure.
When the World Superbike Championship made its way over to Utah for the seventh round of the title calendar, Spies had one win streak going that had not been broken-in all the events leading up to the U.S. round at Miller Motorsports Park, he had qualified on pole position at every venue, emerging victorious after the new Superpole "knockout" qualifying format (similar to the Formula One three-part format, with the three 12-minute sessions for each rider to set his fastest lap, separated by seven minutes each; the top 20 riders are selected for the first session, with the top 16 making it to the second session, and only the top eight riders for the final session). If Spies qualified on pole for the Miller Motorsports Park round, it would break the long-standing record of six consecutive pole positions, ironically set by another Texan by the name of Doug Polen.
Luckily for us, Pirelli decided to give SR a spot on the "P-Team" at Miller. We would be able to spend the weekend in the garage of a chosen World Superbike team to observe the goings-on behind the usual hustle-and-bustle scenes that are shown on TV or are visible from the grandstands (or even hot pit lane, for that matter). And wouldn't you know it...we got to spend the weekend in Spies' garage and watch the Yamaha World Superbike team at work. A champion is only as good as the team behind him, and here was an opportunity to observe one of the best in action.
Not only was Spies under tremendous pressure to break Polen's record, but the American crowd at Miller was looking for their homeboy to lay waste to the international field in the two races as well. Needless to say, Spies' weekend went nearly flawlessly, with the Texan breaking Polen's pole position record with eight consecutive Superpoles for '09 (Spies even had to back off a bit during his record lap because of raindrops on the back portion of the Miller circuit), and then simply dominating both races.
The following pictorial is El Jefe's report on what he observed during his time in the Yamaha World Superbike team garage at Miller.