With Race 1 changing two riders’ fate, the last race of the last round of the 2009 World Superbike Championship would be the only redemption left, until next year. Just as catastrophe changed the Championship in Race 1, disaster here in Race 2 could just as easily swing the pedulum. With this pressure still looming, Spies and Haga both had to be ready for a fight to the finish. Spoilers after the jump.
Despite his crash in Race 1, Haga found himself with the upper-hand in Race 2. Needing to best Spies by a margin of 15 points, Haga needed to win Race 2, and watch Spies finish 7th or lower in the pack. Surely knowing that this would be a lot to ask from the young American, who has been basically flawless all season; Haga would need to see a chink in Spies’ armor if he were to finally catch his unicorn that is the World Superbike Championship.
Fastest off the line was Shane Byrne, who has been fairly docile all season. Trailing was Ben Spies, although the American would quickly lose his position to Fabrizio, Haga, and Rea. Choosing to stay out of the fray with those riders, Spies held back in 5th place where he could comfortably win the World Superbike Championship title.
It wouldn’t be easy sailing for Spies though. Joining him was Max Biaggi, who is normally a level-headed rider, but for whatever reason, his hard racing and questionable passes on failing tires gave worry to Spies. Later recalling that Biaggi “really freaked me out”, Spies found himself battling the Italian for 5th place, which was the last thing the American wanted to do.
Somehow avoiding disaster, Spies would finish 5th for Race 2, clinching the World Superbike Championship in his rookie year. With this finish, it was of no consequence that Haga finished 2nd, behind teammate Michel Fabrizio.
After watching Rea lead for most of the race, Fabrizio finally got past the Ten Kate Honda man. Rea’s tires just didn’t seem able to go the distance, and as a result Haga was able to follow Fabrizio by, moving into the 2nd place position.
With the end of Race 2, we see the end of the 2009 World Superbike season, which is a bittersweet moment for us here at Asphalt & Rubber. We can think of reason why both riders, Haga and Spies, should have won this year’s Championship.
For Haga, he will have to try again next year where he’ll be once again campaigning with the Xerox Ducati squad. While for Spies, his journey will begin sooner rather than later, as he makes his a wildcard entry at the MotoGP’s last stop of the season in Valencia, Spain. At Valencia, we’ll get to see our first glimpse into how Team Texas will fair next year, which is an exciting prospect for American interest in MotoGP racing.
Results from Race 2 of World Superbike at Portimao, Portugal:
|1||84||M. Fabrizio||ITA||Ducati 1098R||–|
|2||41||N. Haga||JPN||Ducati 1098R||1.195|
|3||65||J. Rea||GBR||Honda CBR1000RR||1.494|
|4||67||S. Byrne||GBR||Ducati 1098R||5.553|
|5||19||B. Spies||USA||Yamaha YZF R1||5.842|
|6||3||M. Biaggi||ITA||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||7.374|
|7||22||L. Camier||GBR||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||9.658|
|8||96||J. Smrz||CZE||Ducati 1098R||10.434|
|9||11||T. Corser||AUS||BMW S1000 RR||17.010|
|10||50||S. Guintoli||FRA||Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9||24.509|
|11||71||Y. Kagayama||JPN||Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9||27.195|
|12||23||B. Parkes||AUS||Kawasaki ZX 10R||34.825|
|13||14||M. Lagrive||FRA||Honda CBR1000RR||35.135|
|14||99||L. Scassa||ITA||Kawasaki ZX 10R||1’01.842|
|15||94||D. Checa||ESP||Yamaha YZF R1||1’09.782|
|16||100||M. Tamada||JPN||Kawasaki ZX 10R||1’30.818|
|17||25||D. Salom||ESP||Kawasaki ZX 10R||4 Laps|
|RET||15||M. Baiocco||ITA||Ducati 1098R||7 Laps|
|RET||91||L. Haslam||GBR||Honda CBR1000RR||14 Laps|
|RET||7||C. Checa||ESP||Honda CBR1000RR||15 Laps|
|RET||111||R. Xaus||ESP||BMW S1000 RR||15 Laps|
|RET||10||F. Nieto||ESP||Ducati 1098R||15 Laps|
|RET||77||V. Iannuzzo||ITA||Honda CBR1000RR||19 Laps|