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Old 03-18-2009, 06:30 PM   #1
Grinchy
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Arrow So just how good is rookie Spies

Prior to taking the world by storm in 2009, World Superbike sensation Ben Spies had already proved himself a statistical phenomenon during his brief but unprecedented run in the AMA Superbike Championship.

In just four short years the Texan put together the type of numbers that fully justified his inclusion on the extremely short list of candidates with a legitimate claim as the greatest racer the storied series had ever produced.

Among those mind-boggling stats were his career 38% win percentage, 56% pole rate (73% over his last three seasons), 81% top twos, 92% podium finishes, and 75% championship mark.
And now, in just two rounds of Superbike World Championship competition, the Yamaha Motor Italia rookie is still at it, astoundingthe SBK stat keepers with his immediate brilliance.

While four races is not nearly enough of a sample to suggest that he will continue at anywhere near this pace, his three wins in four attempts and two poles in two tries already puts him in rarefied company.

Consider that he is already on par with Max Biaggi and Akira Yanagawa in terms of career SBK victories, surpassing the likes of long-time series favorites Jamie Whitham, Chris Walker, and Peter Goddard. In addition, he's already tied Ben Bostrom and Anthony Gobert in terms of career poles, surging ahead of Ruben Xaus.

A closer look shows that Spies' first four races already compare quite favorably with the complete rookie seasons of the series' all-time greats:

(Note: Keep in mind that the 2009 season is considered by many to be the deepest and most competitive in the championship's 22-year history and that Spies had zero prior World Superbike experience while nearly all of the following had at least tasted wild card or replacement duty prior to their first full rookie attempts.)

Three-time AMA Superbike champion Ben Spies (2009): 3 wins (4 races), 2 poles (2 attempts)

Four-time SBK champion Carl Fogarty (1991): 0 wins, 0 poles

Fogarty had taken part in nine combined World Superbike races from '88-'90, but put in his first full season in 1991. He didn't get his first win until 1992 (his only win of the year), but really came into his own in '93, taking 11 wins while finishing second to Scott Russell in the title hunt.

Three-time SBK champion Troy Bayliss (2000): 2 wins, 1 pole

Bayliss actually opened the 2000 season as a member of Vance& Hines Ducati in the AMA Superbike Championship, but was drafted up to replace the injured Fogarty early in the year, putting in 20 races that season. He had taken part in six World Superbike races prior to that as a wild card while running in the Australian and British Superbike series.

Two-time SBK runner-up Noriyuki Haga (1998): 5 wins, 1 pole

Haga's five victories in '98 made him an absolute rookie sensation. The Japanese ace actually came into SBK as a race winner, haven taken a wild card win at Sugo the year before. Haga had participated in ten World Superbike races combined over the four years prior to his rookie campaign.

Two-time SBK champion Troy Corser (1995): 5 wins, 4 poles

Corser finished second in his rookie SBK season. The Australian already had significant SBK experience under his belt, having taken part in eight races the year before while winning the AMA crown with Fast by Ferracci Ducati.

Two-time SBK champion Colin Edwards (1995): 0 wins, 0 poles

Edwards came over to World Superbike from the AMA along with '94 AMA champ Corser in '95 but did so as a true rookie. Edwards wouldn't get his first SBK win until leaving Yamaha for Castrol Honda in his fourth SBK season.

Two-time SBK champion James Toseland (2001): 0 wins, 0 poles

Toseland got his start on the world level racing for Castrol Honda in World Supersport. He got his first SBK podium in his second season and his first win in his third.

2003 SBK champion Neil Hodgson (1996): 0 wins, 0 poles

Hodgson showed speed on occasion after coming over from 500GP into the works Ducati team but only mustered a single podium in his rookie attempt.

1993 SBK champion Scott Russell (1993): 5 wins, 4 poles

Russell actually wonthe title as a rookie, but Spies is already approaching his win and pole totals from that season. It's worth noting that the Georgian had almost a full season's worth of combined experience in SBK prior to '93, having taken part in 16 races from '89-'92.

1997 SBK champion John Kocinski (1996): 5 wins, 3 poles

Kocinski finished third while running a factory Ducati in '96, coming into SBK after wearing out his welcome in the Grand Prix paddock. The talented but misunderstood pilot won the title the following year on the Castrol Honda RC45.

Two-time SBK champion Fred Merkel (1988): 2 wins, 0 poles

Flyin' Fred's rookie year was actually the rookie year for everyone involved as it was the debut season of the new championship. While he won the title on the Oscar Rumi-tuned RC30, he has already seen Spies better his rookie win and pole marks.

Anthony Gobert (1995): 2 wins, 1 pole

Like Haga, Gobert was considered a rookie phenom with his '95 performance of 2 wins and a pole. And like Haga, Gobert came into SBK having already notched up a SBK win as a wild card the previous season.

And Now for the Anomaly…

Two-time SBK champion Doug Polen (1991): 17 wins, 10 poles

Spies appears likely smash the rookie seasons of almost every all-time great save one. Polen's rookie season in '91 with FBF Ducati was one of pure domination, registering 17 wins, 21 podiums, and 10 poles in 12 rounds. Polen had some prior SBK experience but not much, having competed in four combined races from '88-'90.

And Now for the Closest Comparison…

500GP Legend Mick Doohan (1988): 3 wins (4 races), 1 pole (2 attempts)

Mick Doohan competed in four races in '88, winning three races and taking a pole… very close to Spies'record in the same amount of time. However, Doohan enjoyed a home track advantage at Oran Park, where he doubled, and had finished on the podium in the Formula One TT World Championship race at Sugo in '87 before claiming his SBK victory there in '88. By comparison, Spies saw Phillip Island for the first time in testing the week before the race and showed up at Losail having never turned a wheel on the circuit prior to the first free practice.

Polen's freakish season aside, placing Spies' remarkable opening two rounds of World Superbike competition alongside the complete rookie campaigns of some of the all-time greats helps puts his accomplishments into perspective. This is truly heady stuff.

Perhaps most worrisome for his new rivals, Spies' greatest strength is arguably his consistency -- finishing lower than fourth only twice during his four-year run with Yoshimura Suzuki -- a fairly rare trait among the current crop of SBK elite.
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Old 03-18-2009, 06:39 PM   #2
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I was hoping that when i opened this thread i'd see a story about how some rookie spy got caught in russia. but no...it was better
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Old 03-18-2009, 06:47 PM   #3
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Good read and info. As always, Grinchy, thanks for the article.
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Old 03-18-2009, 06:48 PM   #4
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real good.
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Old 03-18-2009, 07:04 PM   #5
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A couple more years down the road we might very well see him taking Rossi's spot!
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Old 03-18-2009, 07:20 PM   #6
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Good read indeed. I really hope the best for Spies this season but only time will tell what will be next.
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Old 03-18-2009, 07:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tiatool View Post
Good read and info. As always, Grinchy, thanks for the article.
no worries
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Old 03-18-2009, 07:44 PM   #8
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closest comp = Mighty Mick
that's an accolade right there
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Old 03-18-2009, 09:39 PM   #9
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Ben is really good but unless they make it a requirement that moto Gp bikes fit real size people he won't be on top long.
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Old 03-19-2009, 01:08 AM   #10
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always haters.... the guy is doing a phenomenal job. Kudos to him and I hope he has a great career.
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Old 03-19-2009, 08:38 AM   #11
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Quote:
Note: Keep in mind that the 2009 season is considered by many to be the deepest and most competitive in the championship's 22-year history and that Spies had zero prior World Superbike experience while nearly all of the following had at least tasted wild card or replacement duty prior to their first full rookie attempts
While I haven't been watching for the past 22 years, it does seem like this is the one of the more competitive seasons, minus 1 great rider.
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Old 03-19-2009, 08:57 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grinchy View Post
Two-time SBK champion Doug Polen (1991): 17 wins, 10 poles

Spies appears likely smash the rookie seasons of almost every all-time great save one. Polen's rookie season in '91 with FBF Ducati was one of pure domination, registering 17 wins, 21 podiums, and 10 poles in 12 rounds. Polen had some prior SBK experience but not much, having competed in four combined races from '88-'90.

Polen's freakish season aside, placing Spies' remarkable opening two rounds of World Superbike competition alongside the complete rookie campaigns of some of the all-time greats helps puts his accomplishments into perspective. This is truly heady stuff.

This is the one that came to mind when I started reading this thread.
Could'nt believe this guys stats when I first read them.
Polin now does private lessons with several track day orgs out in California using two way helmet intercoms while he follows/leads.
I've read that it's quite an experience and a must for anyone serious about dropping lap times.
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Old 03-19-2009, 09:36 AM   #13
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When you see the numbers, it REALLY puts his last few wins into perspective.

GO BEN!!!!!!!
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