The World Superbike Championship visited Valencia this weekend. With three poles and three wins in a row, all eyes were on Ben Spies at the start of the first Superbike race, wondering if the American could close the 10 point lead that Noriyuki Haga had over him. A sweep of the weekend’s races, could mean that Spies could be leading the series, or at the very least tied with Haga, depending on how the Japanese rider fared. Conversely, Haga with a strong showing could lengthen his early lead over the field. With Spies showing almost a full second on Haga at the Superpole, this would be no easy feat. Continue reading for spoilers from Race 1 of the Valencia World Superbike Races, and to see how Race 1 sorted itself out.
It was Spies who was of course at the head of the grid after his masterful showing at the Superpole on Saturday. Seemingly unstoppable, the crowd was shocked when Spies miffed his launch at the start of the race, and entered into the first corner in fifth place, behind a contingency of Ducatis. Regis Laconi led the way, ahead of Noriyuki Haga, Max Neukirchner and Troy Corser. Laconi would not hold the lead for long though, as Haga, followed by Neukirchner, passed Laconi a few corners later. Coming onto the front straightaway, Neukirchner used the speed of his Suzuki to take the lead over Haga at the start line, but Haga was able to move inside of the German, and take the lead back after the exit of the first turn of the second la.
Aidied by Troy Corser who crashed out, Spies was able to take 3rd place by the end of the fifth lap. By this time, Haga had a 2 secondslead over Max Neukirchner, and 2.7 seconds over Spies. Over the course of the next four laps, Spies would chase down Neukirchner, but ended up pushing the front end of his Yamaha too hard, and ended up in the gravel. On his next lap, Haga’s pit board read “19 OUT”, signaling Haga to not push his luck too hard for the rest of the race, and cruise to a comfortable victory.
While first place was quickly settled, the race for second was much closer. Max Neukirchner looked to have a firm hold on the second step of the podium, but Haga’s Ducati team mate Michel Fabrizio was charging hard through the field. Crossing the line in 8th place on the first lap, the Italian fought his way forward, then closed steadily on Neukirchner as the race reached its conclusion. With three laps to go, Fabrizio was close enough to pull out of Neukirchner’s draft at the end of the straight, passing the German into Turn 1. Neukirchner was not able to repass the Italian, and had to settle for third, ceding the top two steps to the Xerox Ducati riders. Regis Laconi finished just off the podium to make it three Ducatis in the top four.
In his first WSBK outing, John Hopkins finished 11th on the Stiggy Honda, the second Honda across the line, and ahead of Ryuichi Kiyonari on the Ten Kate Racing machine. The other Ten Kate riders had a nightmare of a race, Johnny Rea crashing out on the first lap, Carlos Checa running off twice, before finally pulling into the pits.
Of the new manufacturers to enter the series, Max Biaggi finished best, fighting his way forward from 18th on the grid to take 8th place on the Aprilia, while Ruben Xaus was the sole BMW to finish, climbing from 19th on the grid to take a couple of points in 13th.
Results from Race 1 of the World Superbike Stop at Valencia:
|1||41||N. Haga||JPN||Ducati 1098R||1’34.862||–||23|
|2||84||M. Fabrizio||ITA||Ducati 1098R||1’35.179||3.677||23|
|3||76||M. Neukirchner||GER||Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9||1’35.033||3.959||23|
|4||55||R. Laconi||FRA||Ducati 1098R||1’35.121||4.210||23|
|5||91||L. Haslam||GBR||Honda CBR1000RR||1’35.381||13.824||23|
|6||71||Y. Kagayama||JPN||Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9||1’35.287||14.562||23|
|7||66||T. Sykes||GBR||Yamaha YZF R1||1’35.562||15.155||23|
|8||3||M. Biaggi||ITA||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||1’35.372||16.316||23|
|9||67||S. Byrne||GBR||Ducati 1098R||1’35.680||20.361||23|
|10||23||B. Parkes||AUS||Kawasaki ZX 10R||1’35.521||23.878||23|
|11||121||J. Hopkins||USA||Honda CBR1000RR||1’35.778||30.902||23|
|12||9||R. Kiyonari||JPN||Honda CBR1000RR||1’36.082||31.298||23|
|13||111||R. Xaus||ESP||BMW S1000 RR||1’36.477||32.660||23|
|14||100||M. Tamada||JPN||Kawasaki ZX 10R||1’36.588||42.156||23|
|15||33||T. Hill||GBR||Honda CBR1000RR||1’36.768||43.040||23|
|16||31||K. Muggeridge||AUS||Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9||1’36.575||45.204||23|
|17||86||A. Badovini||ITA||Kawasaki ZX 10R||1’37.146||52.023||23|
|18||99||L. Scassa||ITA||Kawasaki ZX 10R||1’37.212||52.474||23|
|19||25||D. Salom||ESP||Kawasaki ZX 10R||1’36.946||55.775||23|
|20||15||M. Baiocco||ITA||Kawasaki ZX 10R||1’37.021||56.202||23|
|RET||7||C. Checa||ESP||Honda CBR1000RR||1’35.471||2 Laps||21|
|RET||94||D. Checa||ESP||Yamaha YZF R1||1’37.029||10 Laps||13|
|RET||24||B. Roberts||AUS||Ducati 1098R||1’36.222||11 Laps||12|
|RET||19||B. Spies||USA||Yamaha YZF R1||1’35.276||14 Laps||9|
|RET||77||V. Iannuzzo||ITA||Honda CBR1000RR||1’37.046||14 Laps||9|
|RET||88||R. Resch||AUT||Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9||1’37.743||17 Laps||6|
|RET||96||J. Smrz||CZE||Ducati 1098R||1’35.638||18 Laps||5|
|RET||11||T. Corser||AUS||BMW S1000 RR||22 Laps||1|
|RET||65||J. Rea||GBR||Honda CBR1000RR||22 Laps||1|