Ben Spies reversed everyone’s assumptions about the outcome of the opening World Superbike race in Valencia when he slid gracefully off his Yamaha R1 on the tenth lap on the Ricardo Tormo circuit.
The American had scored his third consecutive pole and in the morning warm-up recorded a string of 1m 34s laps that rivals could not match.
But championship leader Noriyuki Haga powered into the lead from third place on the grid on his Xerox Ducati. Spies took several laps to get by Regis Laconi (DFX Ducati) into third place, but then came his accident.
Haga breezed to his second race win of the year and extended his championship lead to 35 points over Spies. Haga’s team-mate Michele Fabrizio made it a Ducati 1-2 by holding off Max Neukirchner (Alstare Suzuki) and Laconi.
Leon Haslam was the best of five Brits in the race on his Stiggy Honda, battling up from the third row of the grid to pick off riders including Yukio Kagayama (Alstare Suzuki). Tom Sykes (Yamaha R1) was seventh, and Max Biaggi (Aprilia RSV4) eighth from Shane Byrne (Sterilgarda Ducati).
Broc Parkes gave Britain’s Paul Bird Kawasaki team a healthy tenth place, and Tommy Hill (Althea Honda) picked up a point for 15th place.
Troy Corser dropped his BMW S1000RR when in fourth place on the opening lap. Jonathan Rea and Carlos Checa also crashed their Hannspree Ten Kate Hondas.