It's been an awfully busy week for Ben Spies. If one admires anything about the young Texan other than his blinding speed, it's the the forthright, no worries way he goes about conducting his business. One imagines that he has a list of tasks to be accomplished and then checked off when done, rather like shopping for groceries or some such other mundane task. This week those tasks have included fielding enquiries from hundreds of journalists, finally being able to talk about his appointment to the Tech Trois Yamaha MotoGP team and making sure that his travel plans to Valencia are changed to a few days earlier than anticipated so that he can participate as a wild card in the season-ending MotoGP race. On top of that extracurricular stuff, Spies still has his day job to do, which this weekend involves qualifying well, winning two Superbike races in France and regaining his lead in the World Superbike championship.
Today, Spies reached his interim goal of taking a record-tying 10th Superpole in the same seemingly blasé business-as-usual manner that he does everything else he sets out to do . The Spies method is to let others go about setting fast times in the relatively unimportant practice and qualifying sessions while the team works at suspension settings and tire choices while Spies labors at familiarizing himself with yet another circuit he's never seen before. This method worked to perfection again today when Spies calmly went out halfway through the third and final session and flat-out stomped an unfamiliar track and his rivals into submission by putting in a record-setting flying lap of 1:37.709, over four-tenths of a second faster than his closest rival, Ulsterman Jonny Rea.
Rea, who Spies says it scares him to be around because of the Ten Kate Honda rider's proclivity to force his way to the front, whether it be around, over or through the field, looked a bit gobsmacked in the aftermath of Spies' record lap but recovered enough to say he was happy with the result and needed to work on his starts prior to tomorrow's races. Spies isn't the only person concerned about Rea's race tactics; Xerox Ducati team manager Davide Tardozzi, whose rider Noriyuki Haga was knocked to the tarmac by Rea at the Nurburgring, says that Rea needs to be smart and not interfere with Haga and Spies' battle for the title. It's doubtful, however that Rea will worry much about bleatings from other teams when he smells the checkered flag.
Third place man Michel Fabrizio said that his #1 bike was broken and had to ride his back-up machine, which, despite a hurried parts swap with his "A" bike, wasn't up to the task of taking the Pole.
4th place Aprilia rider Max Biaggi set his best time in the waning seconds of the session to relegate points leader Noriyuki Haga to the second row.
With the man he has to beat slotting up directly behind him on the grid, Spies needs to get a perfect start, something that has proven to be sporadically elusive so far this season. Not that Spies is necessarily worried about anything like that, it's on the list to be dealt with along with winning two races tomorrow and retaking the series lead. Just another day at the office, no reason to get flustered.