Spies and Edwards star in Sepang sauna Ben Spies and Colin Edwards produced a superhuman effort in extreme heat and humidity at the Sepang circuit this afternoon, the American pair qualifying fourth and seventh respectively for the 20th...
Spies and Edwards star in Sepang sauna
Ben Spies and Colin Edwards produced a superhuman effort in extreme heat and humidity at the Sepang circuit this afternoon, the American pair qualifying fourth and seventh respectively for the 20th Malaysian MotoGP race.
Spies scorched to his seventh consecutive top six qualifying result, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider finishing just 0.164s away from securing a stunning front row start as he once again qualified top non-factory rider on the grid.
The 26-year-old made big progress in improving the set-up of his YZR-M1 machine in searing heat today, Spies drastically improving front and rear grip that was lacking during yesterday's openin g practice session.
His pre-race optimism was boosted by a long run he completed in slightly cooler conditions during second practice this morning. Spies completed 19-laps, one short of full race distance, reeling off a series of consistent times as he gathered a wealth of machine and tyre performance information. His intense training regime also paid dividends today, Spies coping effortlessly with the toughest conditions experienced on the calendar.
Spies was the first rider to dip under the 2.02 barrier with 15 minutes remaining, an impressive lap of 2.01.993 on the technically challenging and physically demanding 5.548km track moving him to the top of the rankings.
He was unable to improve his lap time in the closing stages and a small mistake in the hard baking zone for the final corner denied him a front row with Spies on the brink of hauling himself back into th e top three.
Edwards missed the second row of the grid by just 0.067s, the 36-year-old taking big strides in finding more front and rear traction with his YZR-M1. Slippery track conditions that meant grip was at a premium yesterday were vastly improved this afternoon and Edwards needed just six laps to break into the 2.02 bracket. He was able to lap at a consistent pace throughout in race trim and eventually posted a 2.02.097 to finish seventh.
Ben Spies - Position: 4th - Time: 2'01.993 - Laps: 26
"I'm happy to be so close to the front row and it gives me a lot of encouragement for the race. From fourth on the grid it means another good start will put me in contention for a strong race. I did a race simulation this morning so at least I know how the bike is working in race set-up and I'm happy with it. I intentionally did the longer run in lower heat condition s just to see how I felt. It was still pretty brutal but I felt pretty good and it set me up for a good qualifying. This afternoon was the first time I really used the soft tyre. Everything went pretty good and I put together one decent lap time and then I had good lap going when I made a mistake at the final corner. I caught Colin and he was actually trying give me a tow down the back straight to help me out, but I was a little further back than he thought and by the time I got to him we were hitting the brakes and I missed my brake marker and ran wide. That lap would have put me on the front row for sure but I'm confident that if we raced right now I'd be in the top five and that's what I'm looking for."
Colin Edwards - Position: 7th - Time: 2'02.097 - Laps: 23
"It was really hot out there this afternoon. Each time I was in the pits I was pouring water all over me and it's goin g to be a tough race tomorrow in that heat. I would love to say I could have gone faster but I gave it my maximum and there wasn't a lot left in the tank. But the bike feels really good and my guys at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 did a great job because we found a lot more grip today. The grip was so good in Japan last weekend that you kind of come here and expect a similar feeling, but we had to change everything on the bike to get some grip. We've definitely made the bike a lot better and I'm confident for the race. As for Ben, I was coming into the pits and I looked back coming out of turn four and I could see he was behind me. I thought I'd pick my pace up a little bit so I could perhaps tow him down the back straight and he might be able to get on the front row or even pole. But as I got closer to the final corner I guess he just missed his braking marker. Both of us ended up decent on the grid though and I'm looking forward to the race."