May 17 ’09 : Mixed fortunes for Yamaha riders Spies and Sykes in Kyalami

Date posted on May 18, 2009
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The first race saw Yamaha rider Ben Spies drop back to fourth from the pole position start as they left the line. He recovered quickly and took second position back as they turned into the first corner, diving up the inside of Biaggi to tuck up behind championship rival Noriyuki Haga.Halfway round the first lap he was passed by Michele Fabrizio and settled into third position behind the two Ducatis as they battled for the lead for the majority of the race.
With seven laps to go, Spies dived passed Fabrizio on the last corner coming on to the start finish straight to take second. As the lap unfolded Fabrizio passed briefly but was taken straight again by Spies as the powerful Yamaha out dragged the Ducati from the corner. An unfortunate tank slapper coming out of Clubhouse allowed Fabrizio passed again, and as the tyres had now gone off it was impossible for Spies to catch up so he settled for third and a well deserved podium.

Race two saw disaster strike for Spies, having dropped to third off the start, he again passed Biaggi on the inside for the second place spot and coming round for lap three took Haga in a fantastic move for the lead. No sooner had he done this than his shit linkage broke, making it impossible to change gear and forcing him to retire from the race.

Team-mate Tom Sykes had a less than perfect start to race one, dropping from his eighth position start on the grid to 16th as they headed into the first corner. With ten laps to go he’d moved up to 11th position with a steady race pace and then swiftly took Lavilla for the tenth spot. Although maintaining a good race pace he couldn’t get up to ninth so settled for 10th. Race two saw a better start, dropping initially to 10th, he worked hard to take two places and move up to the eighth spot which he held until briefly before the finish when Suzuki rider Kagayama took back the spot, relegating him to ninth.

Ben Spies, Yamaha World Superbike Team, (3rd,DNF)

“We were struggling to hang in there in race one, it was a good race for all three of us up at the front. When I passed Michel I tried to reel in Nori and then unfortunately made a mistake. I was really strong in parts of the track but giving up too much time in some corners and couldn’t get in there. The second race was very unfortunate, I was feeling good and had secured an early lead, then obviously had the technical problem and had to retire, I’m really disappointed about it. I’m looking forward to going home to the USA for the next round and seeing if we can make it up.”

Tom Sykes, Yamaha World Superbike Team, (10th, 9th )

“I got away badly in the first race and initially dropped down to sixteenth which was a shame as I felt I could have been more consistent. The second race I got away ok from the start and was closing in on Checa and a couple of the boys, but the last five laps or so I was really struggling. If we could have found a bit more grip it would have been better. We struggled on the power this weekend as well which was tough on this circuit. I’m looking forward to getting to Miller as I think the track will suit the R1 really well, and I want to close the gap and get up into fourth place as I think it’s possible.”

Massimo Meregalli, Yamaha World Superbike Team Manager

“Both riders did really well in the first race as we have been having issues here with the tyres, making it hard to be consistent throughout the race. For Ben in race two we had a problem with the shift linkage so he was unable to change gear and had to retire. We knew from practice that it was going to be tough racing here but both Ben and Tom did their best. The Ducati engine was stronger here on the day. ”

From Yamaha