The opening round of the World Superbike championship had a lot to live up to. Billed as the most open championship for many years, the series once again looked completely unpredictable, and capable of producing close, exciting racing. And after a long, dark winter, the fans would not be disappointed, in either the World Superbike or World Supersport classes.
In World Superbikes, all eyes were on Ben Spies. Still an unknown quantity with no points of reference between his native AMA championship, where the Texan is coming off three consecutive titles, and the current World Superbike field, one of the biggest questions in the paddock was just how good Spies would be once the flag dropped. Taking pole position in the new Superpole format had proven that Spies was fast, at least over a limited number of laps and with a clear track, but WSBK fans were yet to be convinced of Spies' ability to stand his ground amidst the hurly burly of an average World Superbike race. Taking on a single rider, even one of the caliber of Mat Mladin, is one thing; taking on the charging horde of Haga, Biaggi, Neukirchner, Checa, Rea, Corser, Fabrizio et al is quite another.
World Superbikes Race 1