Spies wins eventful Race One
BEN Spies took an impressive victory in Race One of the World Superbike Championship at Misano - while Brit Shane Byrne celebrates a well-deserved second place.
In a race which was dictated by the weather, it was Texas Terror Spies who made all the right choices to take the win.
Ducati Xerox rider Michel Fabrizio took the final podium spot, just beating polesitter Jakub Smrz across the line at the chequered flag.
The race start was deemed a wet one, after downpours throughout the morning at the Italian resort, forcing all riders to begin the 24-Lap battle on wet tyres.
And it was reigning British Superbike Champ Shakey Byrne who headed the pack as the first lap got underway, as he began to eke out a massive lead - which would reach 15 seconds at one point - ahead of Smrz and the battling duo of Spies and Fabrizio.
But as the track began to dry, it soon became clear that slick tyres were the best way to go, and on Lap 10, Aprilia's Shinya Nakano became the first rider to change bikes and tyres, with Haga following a lap later.
On Lap 13, Spies became the first of the big hitters to change, and as soon as he got back out on track, he began to reel in the rest.
Shakey meanwhile chose to stay out in front as long as he could, finally making the change on Lap 16, while Ruben Xaus who then inherited the lead, decided to push his BMW Motorrad machine to the limit on his clearly degrading tyres.
With Xaus leading the pack but getting ever slower, all eyes were on Spies as his tyres became the first to reach optimum temperature, and he began slicing through the pack, despatching with everyone - including Xaus - to take the lead by Lap 18.
With Xaus facing no option but to head to the pits for slicks at lap later, Shakey slid into second with Fabrizio third, and this was to be the order in which they would remain until the chequered flag five laps later.
"That was a hard one, we knew it was going to be tricky once we saw the weather this morning," said a clearly relieved Spies. "Hat's off to Shakey for that, he rode a great one and we just couldn't match him on the wets.
"We pushed as hard as we could and made the tyre call at the right time. I had the chance to get them up to temperature and once they were there we were able to get away and pull it off.
"That was a tricky one - perhaps there wasn't as much racing as normal but it was a hard race with tough decisions and I'm thrilled we've been able to catch Nori - although I've got to keep half an eye on Michel because he seems to be always there with me at the moment!"
The final battles involved Fabrizio and Smrz, who had a close fight all the way to the line, with the Italian taking the final podium spot just ahead of Smrz.
Meanwhile behind, Championship leader Noriyuki Haga edged out pal Yukio Kagayama for fifth - the latter still riding with a broken foot following a crash at the last round at Salt Lake City.
But while Shakey was the man to fly the flag for the UK, Jonathan Rea was perhaps the unluckiest man on the grid.
Forced to start from Pit Lane, he had made it up to P8 by the end of Lap Three, but was then called in for a drive through penalty, believed to be a result of Pit Lane speeding.
After taking the penalty, he rejoined in 18th and started to move through the pack, before making his tyre change on Lap 13, and stalling his HANNSpree Ten Kate Honda in the pits.
The team managed to get the machine going again, and Rea got back out and made possibly the greatest comeback of his career to cross the line seventh. Team-mate Carlos Checa also suffered a similar fate, when his bike also stalled in Pit Lane after the change.
Haga still leads the championship on 276 points, but his lead has been cut to just 29 over Spies, who has shot up to 237, with Fabrizio on 217.
Full Race Result
1 19 Spies B. (USA) Yamaha YZF R1 45'02.773 (135,093 kph)
2 67 Byrne S. (GBR) Ducati 1098R 7.931
3 84 Fabrizio M. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 11.836
4 96 Smrz J. (CZE) Ducati 1098R 11.886
5 41 Haga N. (JPN) Ducati 1098R 31.670
6 71 Kagayama Y. (JPN) Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9 33.241
7 65 Rea J. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 35.772
8 66 Sykes T. (GBR) Yamaha YZF R1 41.931
9 56 Nakano S. (JPN) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 51.507
10 14 Lagrive M. (FRA) Honda CBR1000RR 59.921
11 7 Checa C. (ESP) Honda CBR1000RR 1'04.285
12 91 Haslam L. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 1'04.313
13 3 Biaggi M. (ITA) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'19.822
14 111 Xaus R. (ESP) BMW S1000 RR 1'22.412
15 53 Polita A. (ITA) Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9 1'31.635
16 2 Hacking J. (USA) Kawasaki ZX 10R 1'39.830
17 23 Parkes B. (AUS) Kawasaki ZX 10R 1'42.964
18 10 Nieto F. (ESP) Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9 1'43.303
19 57 Lanzi L. (ITA) Ducati 1098R
20 77 Iannuzzo V. (ITA) Honda CBR1000RR
21 94 Checa D. (ESP) Yamaha YZF R1
22 36 Lavilla G. (ESP) Ducati 1098R
23 25 Salom D. (ESP) Kawasaki ZX 10R
NC 88 Resch R. (AUT) Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9
RET 99 Scassa L. (ITA) Kawasaki ZX 10R
RET 15 Baiocco M. (ITA) Kawasaki ZX 10R
RET 9 Kiyonari R. (JPN) Honda CBR1000RR
RET 11 Corser T. (AUS) BMW S1000 RR
NP 121 Hopkins J. (USA) Honda CBR1000RR