American Ben Spies sent a chill through the Ducati Xerox pitbox in Qatar today when he won his second consecutive World Superbike Championship race on the new Yamaha R1 on the desert circuit.
Noriyuki Haga spent the entire 18-lap race in a three-way battle with Spies and Aprilia’s Max Biaggi, but in the end his 1098R Ducati V-twin appeared to lack straight-line power on the 190mph straight compared to the two four-cylinder bikes.
Spies, however, was able to dodge out of Haga’s slipstream on lap 12 to take second place, and shortly after he passed Biaggi when the Italian ran slightly wide.
Spies, who is making an explosive debut in WSB racing, then powered to a 1.893s win from Haga and Biaggi. Spies has now won two of his first three WSB races: Haga still leads the championship with 65 points, but his rival now trails him by only 15 points.
“It was an extremely difficult race,” Spies said after giving Yamaha their first win on the Losail circuit. “I had an OK start and had to go by a couple of people.
“We were all three (Biaggi, Haga and himself) strong in various parts of the track, and I was lacking a little off the last corner. When I got by them I had to keep my head down and keep it clean to stop them getting by again.”
Of his move from third to first in a single lap Spies added: “Nori was looking up the inside of Max and let it off a bit early, and I went by him. Then Max went a bit wide and I got by him.”
“I was trying to get past Max, but Ben passed me and I couldn’t catch up,” Haga admitted. The Japanese rider may be hoping to gain revenge on twistier circuits that may favour the Ducati’s characteristics.
Shinya Nakano, on the second Aprilia V4, finished fourth, and Carlos Checa (Ten Kate Honda) was fifth, from Britain’s Shane Byrne, who scored his first points of the year on the Sterilgarda Ducati.