2009 Portimao World Superbike Race 2 Result - Duel To Line For Victory

Results of World Superbike race 2 at Portimao, in which the World Championship was decided:

Michel Fabrizio took victory in the final World Superbike race of the season, capitalizing on a mistake by Johnny Rea, after pushing the Ulsterman hard for much of the race. Shane Byrne had led the race from the line, with Ben Spies following, but Spies would not run at the front for long. Max Biaggi and Johnny Rea came through to chase Byrne, Rea chasing hardest and eventually getting past the Sterilgarda Ducati at the halfway mark. Byrne had put up a sterling defense until that point, but his clearly slower bike was no match for the others on top speed.

Rea then led for most of the rest of the race, while Michel Fabrizio fought his way forward and onto Rea's tail. In the final couple of laps, Rea's tires started to slide, and the Ten Kate Honda man ran wide allowing Fabrizio through. A last-ditch effort went unrewarded, Rea trying from too far back.

Noriyuki Haga took 2nd ahead of Rea, having followed his team mate through the pack. The Japanese rider had a reasonable start, but sat in 6th for much of the first half of the race. He finally got going when it was too late to save his title challenge, forging past Ben Spies, Shane Byrne and Max Biaggi.

Ben Spies tied up the 2009 World Superbike championship with a 5th place finish, putting in a solid if somewhat lackluster performance to secure enough points to take the championship: 6th would have been good enough, 5th made absolutely sure. The Texan had started off in 2nd, but dropped through the field. Spies suffered a few scary moments at the end of the race, as an exhausted and increasingly wild Max Biaggi tried to stay ahead of Spies, attempting a couple of desperate passes that could potentially have ended in disaster.

Spies now heads to Valencia, and the MotoGP paddock. He has achieved his goal of securing the World Superbike crown, making his switch to the premier class an easier transition, and leaving with no unfinished business in the series.

Spies' title was the third individual championship Yamaha clinched today, after Valentino Rossi wrapped up MotoGP and Cal Crutchlow secured the World Supersport crown. Yamaha have also taken the World Endurance title and a host of other national crowns, marking an incredibly strong year for the manufacturer.


Pos No. Rider Country Bike Diff
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
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I am SO impressed by--and so happy for--Ben. It is truly amazing, unprecedented, scintillating, stunning--pick your term--to see what a rookie accomplished on the world stage this year.

At the beginning of the year, I had Nori and Ben picked for the front, along with my sentimental favorite of Aprilia (but no sentimentality for Max). After race 1 in Philip Island, where Max ran Ben off the track in turn 2, then came race 2, where I saw the sign of my actually getting something right (for a change) when Ben and Nori finished 1-2.

As this year progressed, I was able to make up my mind once and for all about which rider I wanted to win the title. As much as I really like Nori, that decision fell to Ben.

I'm also a Texan, but more importantly, I wanted to see a rookie do something that was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I wanted to see a rookie do what had never been done in any of the world championships. Lewis could have easily done it without Fernando's not-so-subtle pushes off track (and Ron Dennis' failure to have the backbone to do something--ANYTHING--to put a stop to Alonso's whining and flagrant sabotage), and Rossi could have done it if he hadn't been so tentative and lackadaisical in his first year in the 500s. Both were sad misses at what should have been once-in-a-lifetime achievements that would have stood forever as some of the best moments in the history of motorsport.

This year, I have been so MONUMENTALLY impressed by Ben's ability to just put his head down and destroy the field--often seemingly with NO emotion--, but I have also just been dumbstruck by mind-bendingly bad luck over the course of the season. Anything and everything that could have gone wrong...CAN and DID go wrong for Mr. Spies.

1) I've NEVER seen someone run out of fuel on the last turn of the last lap WHILE LEADING (which differentiates it from Nicky's fuel starvation at Assen) the race, right after one of the best last lap battles ever.

2) I've NEVER seen someone so REGULARLY get pushed wide or taken out by absolutely STUPID pass attempts.

3) I've RARELY seen someone have such mechanical mishaps. 2006 Camel Yamaha is the only team that come to mind for such pathetic mechanical failures...

And through it all, he often-as-not just walked quietly back to the pits, got back on the bike, and went out and destroyed everyone on the next race. The best notable exception was his complete dressing down of Fabrizio after the most IDIOTIC take-down maneuver of the season. It was funny to watch Ben push Fabrizio off as repeated attempts were made for apologies, forgiveness, and (apparently) a hug or two. (HA!) The humor of that was only exceeded by Fabrizio's hand-made sign that he held up for the camera next race where it declared his love for Ben. That was PRICELESS.

If I have any gripes about this WSBK season, it certainly ISN'T that there wasn't enough drama or excitement. My gripe would be that I'd love to see some FIRE and some EXCITEMENT from Ben. He's great, and he's fun to watch, and he's the champion. He also comes across sometimes like a machine that is designed for victories, and which coldly, clinically, and successfully delivers the payload of yet another victory. Yes, we ARE spoiled by having Rossi around, as he combines all the energy, entertainment value, flair, fun, and likability of a puppy running hither and yon, up and down the beach, while being as deadly and dominating on-track as a tsunami or an assassin's bullet (especially when ALL is at stake, and it's a do-or-die situation). Nori is the very definition of entertaining in WSBK. While Moto GP was not his cup of sake, WSBK suits him perfectly, and he's FUN to watch (as well as to listen to his post-race interviews). Give Ben some of whatever you're drinking, Nori! Maybe Colin will rub off on Ben... I would pay good money to hear Ben answer a ridiculous question about a terrible performance by saying, "Well, we totally SUCKED today! What do you THINK?!?!"

However, comma, I have to point out the fact that these piddly little gripes are just that: piddly, insignificant, unimportant, trivial, and otherwise very low on the list of genuinely meaningful gripes. The bottom line is this: Ben overcame a HUGE number of obstacles, doubters, and unknowns (read: new tracks), and he put on a MASTERCLASS of surgeon-like precision on his way to winning what may well be the most impressive WSBK title we're likely to ever see (along with Colin's running the table with the last nine race victories to claim his 2002 WSBK title).

Bravo, Ben! Bravissimo! Bring on Valencia, and then 2010! I can't wait!

Thanks CT, I enjoyed that : )

I have to agree - I was willing Nori on in both races and he came oh so close in race 2, but Ben did it, and his arrival in MotoGP is so much the better for having done so. Although I still can't see him taking the fight to the top four in the way he's done in WSB, it is going to be great to see him applying his methodology to the class; I reckon more than a few regulars are going to be humbled by Spies.

Congratulations to Yamaha for its sterling efforts in racing in 2009!

What an unbelievable series this year and a phenomenal talent that Ben Spies is. I cannot remember such a series that has provided what this years WSB did for us. A sentimental favorite vs a young phenom rookie. Hands down that this years WSB put to shame any other series and especially MotoGP. The racing was so tight and there was any 5-6 guys in the field that could win any day. Perseverance from Ben and willingness to endure heartbreak and machine failure over the season to get to this point. Im not sure we will ever see this happen again and it could not have happened to a better guy. Look out MotoGP, here comes TEXAS. What a stud!

How come everybody is so incredulous at Spies winning in his WSBK "rookie" year? There is no denying that he is great; anybody who places on the podium regularly is one of the very best. However, people don't give enough credit to AMA Superbike (at least before DMG). In any case, Ben's been on a superbike before, the GSX-R 1000, and placed very well over the course of the past 6 years. Only one of those years, 2004, saw him without a Superbike ride, but in any case, I get the feeling that people are discounting that he truly DOES have experience, and probably experience that would match what would be an equivalent WSBK history. Nitro has about 12, granted, but look at Michel Fabrizio, who's third in standings: he has 5 years of WSBK experience. So really, I cannot consider Spies an outright phenom, especially when he's already had a very winning experience on the Suzuki GSX-R 1000 prior to his one year stint on the 2009 R1.

In any case, I cannot wait to see how he fares in Valencia, and in 2010. That can be qualified as the status of a phenom rookie, if he places on the podium regularly. Otherwise, he'll just be like Toseland: talented on a superbike, in need of more to perform well on another.

Strange remark you see some folks make, this "Spies isn't really a rookie". Experience does not equal whether or not a person is a rookie. And he is most certainly a WSBK rookie. Different tracks. Different rules. Different bike. Different tires. As you may know (or not as it seems) what makes a rookie is whether or not the person has a regular seat in a given league.

Obviously no one is a rookie anything, except 3-4 year old kids stepping onto motorcycles for the first time. But it is generally accepted, in all sports that your first season in a league makes it your rookie season. And comparing AMA to WSBK, indicates that you may not follow either league very close to make such a statement. Sure the AMA has some solid talent in it but the talent in the WSBK field is markedly higher AND deeper than the AMA (as it is in CSB, BSB, or any other national league etc).

If this was such a "meh, the guy is not really a rookie" event, then please explain to me why in more than 20 years of WSBK racing has no other rider done this? Precisely because it is a big deal for a WSBK rookie to do this. (As if Fogarty, Bayliss, Edwards, Corser, etc.. never slung a leg over a Superbike before entering WSBK in their respective rookie seasons. All great WSBK riders come from some prior Superbike experience. Period. One doesn't just ride pocket-bikes then viola land a factory WSBK gig. They progress up their national league then step foot on the world stage, in WSBK or WSS. And when they do so, they do so as a rookie notwithstanding having ridden Superbikes for several seasons back at their national level series).

And btw, with regard to GP, when was the last time a premier class GP satellite rider *regularly* placed on the podium? Exactly. It's an absurd demand to make of any satellite rider, let alone a rookie. And yet, folks in this "Spies isn't a Rookie" camp, love to make that logical leap. Oh well. Can't impress everyone I guess.

Go Spies!

A rookie is defined as a rider who has not ridden a full season in a particular series. Therefore Spies is a genuine rookie. Now, he may have superbike experience, but the AMA rules were sufficiently different to make the Yosh Suzukis and the Sterilgarda Yamaha completely different bikes. Then of course there's the fact that Spies didn't know most of the tracks and was riding a bike in its first year. 

By your measure, nobody can ever be classed as a rookie. Any of the riders entering (particularly) the World Superbike series already has experience on a Superbike, and often know the tracks from World Supersport. What you seem to be referring to is a rider with no experience, and there's no chance of a rider without experience even getting anywhere near the paddock, let alone taking a factory ride.

But Spies had never turned a wheel in this series until this season. So I think that qualifies. There were, before this season started, a long list of things describing why Spies should not succeed at this level. Winning the championship was but one of them. Who in their right mind could come up with a valid argument for him not to have succeeded and done what he has done. A 50% win ratio, 79% pole ratio, most consecutive poles, winning the championship in the least number of race starts ever, overcoming the largest point deficit (88) ever to take the title. All this happened on a bike, tracks, tires and team he had never even seen before this season. I am sure there is more, I may even be mistaken in some of my stats! But take any one of them on its own merit and it shows you something special is going on there! People just aren't supposed to do these things against time proven veterans. Maybe if Rossi woke up one day and said "I wanna go WSBK racing" then I could understand some of these figures. But he came from the (now seemingly irreparably) undervalued AMA Superbike series. Unfortunately there is no one in that series today with the potential of Spies, so it may be a while before another American makes the leap.

I can't say he will set the place (MotoGP) on fire like he did this year but it is surely going to be fun to watch! Especially with all the 250 guys joining the fray! I wouldn't miss it!

All this "rookie" talk is just smoke and mirrors. I was a firm Spies sceptic before the season started and haven't rated AMA for many years. But you just can't deny that Spies is a seriously talented rider and will quite likely go on to join Roberts, Spencer, Lawson, Rainey and Schwantz as the best racers to come out of the USA.
WSBK is not MotoGP but these guys are no mugs and Spies was clearly in a class of his own this year on a bike that was certainly no better than the rest. I've joined the "believers".
With all that talent and such a professional attitude he is sure to do well in MotoGP but the fascinating question will be whether he can make it all the way to the top. In Pedrosa, Stoner and Lorenzo we already have 3 blazingly fast competitors who are as young or younger than Ben. Add to this a crop of pretty useful looking "rookies" for next year headed up by Simoncelli and we will soon see just how good Ben really is - and I think the answer is going to be "pretty bloody good!".

Haga lost this as much as Spies won it. He just didn't have the pace until the last half of the second race. I think he will rue this for a long time.