The return of the World Superbike Championship to the Nurburgring after a long summer layout could prove to be the pivotal race in the title chase, as Yamaha’s Ben Spies took control of the championship after winning the first race and finishing a close second in the other. Meanwhile, Ducati’s Nori Haga could only watch as his previous title lead evaporated; first after getting beat by Spies in the first race, then DNFing the second race due to a crash caused by a coming together with second race winner, Hanspree Ten Kate Honda’s Jonathan Rea. Rea’s teammate Carlos Checa beat Rea for the podium in race one, and then repeated the third place in the second leg. Previous title contender Michel Fabrizio had a sub-par weekend, finishing seventh and ninth to effectively put him out of championship contention.
Ben Spies took a well-deserved...
Ben Spies took a well-deserved victory in race one, overcoming a bad start and relentlessly working his way to the front. He then took on championship leader Nori Haga in a straight-out dice and beat him hands down.
“I got caught up in a tough battle with Rea,” said Spies about the first race. “Then I used up my tires a bit reeling in Nori. He was tough in the first section of the track and that made it hard for me to get by and once I did I wasn't able to shake him, we passed and re-passed. The bike started moving around quite a bit and then with three laps to go it was time to put the hammers down and go. I did my best on the other sections of the track to get a gap and fortunately I was able to click off some really good lap times to finish off the race.”
Haga's defeat at the hands...
Haga's defeat at the hands of title rival Ben Spies in race one was only the beginning of a disastrous weekend.
Haga obviously wasn’t enthused about his second place finish. "I'm not so happy, I wanted to win and I felt sure I could win that race,” said the Japanese veteran. “I tried to overtake Ben everywhere but in some parts he was quicker than me and in some parts my bike was quicker than his, but I couldn't get past him, he was a little faster than me so I had to settle for second place."
"Yesterday qualifying wasn't so good but we knew we had a good pace and a good feeling with the bike,” said third-placed Checa. “I didn't feel so well this weekend either. My start wasn't good, but we had the pace during the race. And starting from behind it was fun, a good fight until the end with Johnny. So it's quite positive and I'm very happy."
Spies worked his way up to...
Spies worked his way up to front in race two after a poor start, but couldn't find a way past Rea and ended up second.
A difficult start in race two would prevent Spies from completing the double, but he was gracious in defeat after being outpaced by Rea on the Ten Kate Honda.
“I didn't get off the line well and then a bunch of guys came together in the first turn,” said Spies. “Once everything settled I was able to start clicking in some good laps. The difference in the second race was that the track was cooler and everyone was turning in quick laps. I used up a lot of my tires fighting through the pack and was starting to slide around a bit at the end. Once I came to the front I found I didn't quite have the rear grip that I needed to make a move on Jonathan, so I tucked in and was waiting for him to make a mistake, which unfortunately he didn’t. He was riding strong and congratulations to him on a great ride and win. It’s fantastic to be leading the championship, it’s what we came here to do, so we’re looking forward to getting to Imola and seeing if we can build on this. The team have been great, and have worked really hard to help me get back in a good position to fight for the championship.” Spies isn’t losing focus with his newfound title lead, though. “It's great to have the series lead, but as we've seen this championship has a lot of ups and downs so I'm not taking anything for granted. There were some pretty tough moments earlier in the season when I just couldn't seem to string together good races. It's way too early to think about anything but doing what we've been doing all season. I'm going to the next round in Imola with the goal of winning.”
Hanspree Ten Kate Honda's...
Hanspree Ten Kate Honda's Jonathan Rea (center) showed that he'll be a force to be reckoned with, taking a well-deserved win in race two after relentless pressure from Spies.
"I tried to ride my own race and mind my own business,” said race two winner Rea. “I got a really bad start and had to get a bit aggressive with people in turn one because I had to regroup and come from a long way back. I had to put moves down quick, because I really messed up race one which was all my fault. During the gap to race two I was really quiet, trying to think about it, and talking with my team about how to make it right. We changed nothing in-between, my guys sat me down and explained exactly what I had to do to win—I gave it my all today, the package was really strong. Ben was really strong in the first sector but I had a crash there on Friday that dented my confidence a bit. I concentrated on how to change my approach to the first few corners. I knew I had to have a mistake-free, but still very fast, last lap at the end, and that’s exactly what I did. We came here with some advances in our electronics, so I can’t thank my team enough for working hard. It is not just me on the bike, it is a whole team effort.”
Checa once again finished...
Checa once again finished third in race two. Troy Corser (11) carded a decent finish for BMW with a sixth place finish, while Max Biaggi (3) finished fourth.
"I did such a really great start I couldn't believe it! Then I had a fight with Haga and Johnny passed me, he was quite strong. I tried to follow him until the end when I lost some ground. Ben also had some good pace and I saw that it was impossible to keep his pace but anyway third place is a good result for me and the team. The chattering we had is now gone, so I can ride more fluidly. Now we have put everything with the suspension and the balance of the bike together, that’s the most important thing.”
Haga leads Rea, Checa, and...
Haga leads Rea, Checa, and Leon Haslam early in race two, before the Ducati rider collided with Rea and crashed out.
Race two winner Rea and Haga both had different viewpoints of the clash that resulted in Haga’s fall. “Before the second race, we made a small suspension modification and I had a better feeling with the rear as the race got underway,” said Haga. “I think that would have been of benefit if I had reached the final stages of the race, but unfortunately, just I started to push to catch Checa, Rea came up fast on the straight and hit me. There was nothing I could do and I couldn't restart the bike. I'm angry as it is the second time this has happened; I guess the only consolation is that I'm not hurt.”
Rea saw it as a racing incident where the Ducati rider made a mistake and Rea took advantage of it. “Haga ran quite wide and I went on the inside,” recalled the Honda rider. “Although I didn't see him, I felt a big bang and only found out he crashed after the race. I'm sorry for that but don't think it was my fault and I wouldn't blame him.”
American John Hopkins had a weekend he’d rather forget. “My day started off well and my crew found a good set-up for the machine in the warm-up session and I managed to improve my pace,” said the former MotoGP rider. “I was confident going into the race. I knew the start would be tough and I had to be somewhere tactical to get myself into the top ten by the end of the first lap. I ran a bit wide coming out of turn one and then got hit from behind in the second turn and high-sided into Broc Parkes. I was unconscious for 10 minutes before waking up in the ambulance. A bike ran over my chest, but apart from that I have no serious injuries. I just hope my luck will turn around soon.”
RACE ONE RESULTS:
RACE TWO RESULTS:
- 1. Ben Spies (USA) Yamaha
- 2. Noriyuki Haga (JPN) Ducati
- 3. Carlos Checa (SPA) Honda
- 4. Jonathan Rea (IRL) Honda
- 5. Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia
- 6. Leon Haslam (UK) Honda
- 7. Michel Fabrizio (ITA) Ducati
- 8. Troy Corser (AUS) BMW
- 9. Tom Sykes (UK) Yamaha
- 10. Shane Byrne (UK) Ducati
- 1. Jonathan Rea (IRL) Honda
- 2. Ben Spies (USA) Yamaha
- 3. Carlos Checa (SPA) Honda
- 4. Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia
- 5. Leon Haslam (UK) Honda
- 6. Troy Corser (AUS) BMW
- 7. Ryuichi Kiyonari (JPN) Honda
- 8. Tom Sykes (UK) Yamaha
- 9. Michel Fabrizio (ITA) Ducati
- 10. Yukio Kagayama (JPN) Suzuki