2009 WorldSBK Champion Ben Spies, current BMW rider Eugene Laverty and MotoGP™ star Maverick Viñales pick their favourite races for YOU to watch!
As part of the series of favourite races, paddock personalities from MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship and MotoGP™ are detailing their favourite WorldSBK races, explaining why they have made the selection and we are making these races available to watch for free. This week’s paddock personalities include MotoGP™ star Maverick Viñales, WorldSBK Champion Ben Spies and current WorldSBK rider Eugene Laverty.
Spanish rider Viñales selected Race 2 from Imola 2002 as his favourite race. He watched this race as a child, featuring the titanic battle between Colin Edwards and Troy Bayliss. Viñales explained: “My favourite WorldSBK race of all time is Imola 2002, with Edwards and Bayliss. This was a very exciting race, relentless overtaking and the pair bumping into each other in every lap. I remember that Bayliss made a small mistake when he opened the throttle, which made his bike lash about and allowed Edwards to take victory.
“This is, without a doubt, one of the most exciting races I can remember watching and it has stuck with me since I was a child – I was only seven when it happened. I remember perfectly, watching from the sofa with my uncle, we didn’t even blink.”
2009 WorldSBK Champion Ben Spies selected Race 1 from Assen 2009, a race he won after starting from pole position. It was a last-lap pass that gave the American victory as he battled with Noriyuki Haga for a sensational win. Spies said: “The best memory I would say would be Race 1 in Assen. That was the part of the season where we just had to win, we had to make points up. We had good pace the whole weekend, kind of the man to beat at that point. But when the race started, I just didn’t have the grip I had in the practice sessions and qualifying so I went ahead and tried to get away.
“I couldn’t get away, so decided to wait until the tyres dropped and we were all on the same level and then put my head back down and followed Haslam and Haga. I went to make a pass on Haslam, made a mistake and couldn’t get it done. And then it was basically two laps to go, I was still in third. I said I have to make it happen and you know, made a pass on Haslam and we had an epic three turns glued to each other. It was all confidence, it was trust. I knew he was there; he knew I wasn’t going to give in. But we gave each other enough room – we did touch, it was awesome and obviously Leon would have loved to win that race like that, and pass Haga on the last lap, passing where we did to win at Assen, a track that I always watched… it’s just huge for anybody to win.”
For Eugene Laverty, Laguna Seca Race 2 from 2013 is his favourite race as he took victory there but felt like he was not the fastest rider on track. He said: “My favourite WorldSBK race was Race 2 at Laguna Seca in 2013. I managed to win the race despite struggling to maintain the pace of Marco Melandri, Tom Sykes and Davide Giugliano. To win a race when you are the strongest is one thing, but to stand atop the podium alongside riders that were faster than you on the day offers a great deal of satisfaction.”
WorldSBK commentator Steve English chose Donington 2001 Race 1 as his favourite race in WorldSBK history, saying: “I've chosen this race because of Steve Hislop's performance in the Superpole session. Watching the session at home it was impossible not to be amazed by the Flying Haggis. This was Hislop at his best. When he was on song, he was bullet sharp and in that Superpole session, he was amazing. 2001 was the last year of the two-stroke 500cc GP bikes and the British GP was still being held at Donington, but it was Hislop who broke the outright lap record at the track. It showed just how complete a rider he was.”
Christophe Guyot (Team Manager – GMT94 Yamaha) selected Anderstorp 1991 Race 2 as his favourite race for events that happened after the race, where Guyot scored his first points of the season. He explained: “Doug Polen (Ducati) is leading. Just behind, Rob Phillis (Kawasaki) is fighting against Raymond Roche (Ducati). During Race 2, I am fighting for 15th place to score a point, which I have been missing since the beginning of the season. I feel nothing but joy behind the visor at the chequered flag. At the end of the lap, I can't believe it, the marshals took me on a lap of honour alongside Polen and Phillis! What an amazing reward. Arriving in the pit lane, I saw Raymond Roche and his red bike, which was looking just like mine (private Honda RC30) and I realised the mix-up... Furious to have been defeated, Raymond didn't do the lap of honour. When the stewards saw me with my arms raised, they mistook us! Raymond's loud laugh said it all. He insisted: "Come on Christophe, go and stand on the podium, I'll give you my place! ". Of course, I didn't go... But this race will remain engraved in my memory.”
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