Yamaha World Superbike Team rider Ben Spies heads to Imola this weekend looking to build on his championship lead over rival Noriyuki Haga. In a dramatic clash two weeks ago at the Nurburgring in Germany Spies put on a breathtaking race performance after mixed qualifying results to finally take the championship lead he’d been chasing all year with a win and a second placed finish. Although the WSB championship hasn’t raced at Imola since 2006 it has proved to be good for Texans, being the scene of a double win for Colin Edwards in 2002 where he won back to back races against Troy Bayliss to claim the World Championship title.
Team mate Tom Sykes is heading to the Italian circuit looking to convert his recent qualifying form into race success. Pre race sessions at the Nurburgring offered a glimpse of Sykes’s potential to run at the front with consistent fast race pace however the British rider was unable to convert it to a top race result after struggling with grip issues on race day.
Spies has an 18 point lead over Haga now with six races to go and a potential 150 further points up for grabs. Sykes currently sits in eighth position, trailing Carlos Checa in seventh by 12 points and 36 points behind rival Brit Leon Haslam in sixth.
Both riders benefit from having tested at Imola over the summer so will not have to use their first practice sessions to learn the circuit.
Ben Spies Speaks…
"I’m looking forward to riding on a track we’ve tested at again," said Ben Spies. " I feel we should have a good weekend coming up as we have a lot of data to go on, we got a lot accomplished at the test. We don’t have as big a lead as we would like but I’ve been in this situation before, it’s not so strange for me. As far as I’m concerned, we’re going to Imola to try and win two races. We know this is Ducati’s back yard and the past has been pretty good for them, so it will be tough. Having said that we have some good stuff worked out with the bike and the team has been continuing to develop so I’m confident we can pull in some good results."
Tom Sykes Speaks…
I’m really looking forward to Imola", said Tom Sykes. "I had a two day test there and it was a decent one, we came away with a lot of positives. I’m hoping to go back there with what we’ve learnt and start with a good race setting. I’m really ready to get on the rostrum and taste the champagne, I certainly feel like I’m capable of doing it. That’s the plan so hopefully we can go there strong, not having to learn the circuit and get stuck straight in. I really enjoyed riding on the track, there are a few bumps that remind me of home and there’s certainly a lot of history there, it’s strange seeing houses as you come down the fast left on the track."