This weekend will be a good one for motorcycle roadracing fans, with two World Championships on the line. But the one title that everyone in the U.S. will be watching intently is the final World Superbike event of the season at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimau, Portugal this weekend. Ducati Xerox’ Noriyuki Haga and Yamaha’s Ben Spies are locked in a battle that will be decided by the Texas WSBK rookie’s finishing position in both races. Simply put, Spies must finish ahead of Haga in both races in order to take the championship (although if by chance they end up tied on points, Spies will be given the title based on more race wins this season).
Here are the World Superbike results for the first of two qualifying sessions (second one is tomorrow morning) that set the 20-rider group for the “shootout” Superpole sessions tomorrow afternoon:
1. Jonathan Rea (IRL) Honda 1:43.786
2. Jakub Smrz (CZE) Ducati 1:43.866
3. Ben Spies (USA) Yamaha 1:43.870
4. Carlos Checa (SPA) Honda 1:43.945
5. Shane Byrne (GBR) Ducati 1:43.947
6. Fonsi Nieto (SPA) Ducati 1:44.005
7. Michel Fabrizio (ITA) Ducati 1:44.154
8. Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia 1:44.210
9. Nori Haga (JPN) Ducati 1:44.254
10. Leon Haslam (GBR) Honda 1:44.324
Yamaha's Ben Spies finished...
Yamaha's Ben Spies finished the first Friday qualifying session at Portimao in third position, less than a 10th of a second behind session leader Jonathan Rea.
Spies felt good about the first qualifying session, but he knows that tomorrow’s Superpole and the two races on Sunday are what count, so all effort was directed toward perfecting race setup. “We had a good day today, we worked a lot on the race set up and evaluated a couple of different tires. The package feels good and the bike feels good on the track, all we can do is keep trying to make it better and better and keep working on my riding and see what happens. The track is still a little green but it’s getting better.”
Ducati's Nori Haga was second...
Ducati's Nori Haga was second in the first practice session, but had some minor traction issues as the track heated up in the afternoon for the first qualifying session, ending up ninth.
After turning some of the quickest times during the first morning practice session—he was the only rider to run laps under the 1:45 mark—Haga found the going a bit tougher when the track temperature warmed up and some grip issues came to the fore. “The lap times today were faster than those recorded during testing earlier this year. In general we haven’t had any real problems but we are working to find the optimal setting and we’ll continue this work tomorrow. I would like to find more grip but apart from that I am pretty confident, I know we are fast and that we can be very competitive here.”