Ben Spies scores a brilliant fourth at Sun-kissed Assen
Ben Spies produced another outstanding ride today in the 80th running of the historic Dutch TT, the Texan thrilling a crowd of nearly 100,000 fans with a stunning fourth place.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Spies made a blistering start from fourth on the grid to take up the tough challenge of fighting with dominant MotoGP world championship leader Jorge Lorenzo in the early stages. Opting to use the softer compound Bridgestone rear tyre, Spies kept Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner at bay with a hard charge in the opening laps before he slipped down to fourth on lap four. Unable to match the pace of the leading trio despite pushing his YZR-M1 machine to the limit, Spies became locked in a close dice with Andrea Dovizioso. The Italian looked at ease in fourth spot before Spies mounted a brilliant attack on lap 15 from fifth position. He started the lap over 0.7s adrift of Dovizioso but slashed the deficit to 0.103s at the end of lap 15. Spies then produced a brilliantly executed overtake on Dovizioso at the final chicane on lap 16 and was able to use his superior speed to pull out a comfortable gap over the Repsol Honda rider. But Dovizioso wasn't finished and inspired by Randy de Puniet's attack, both began to hunt down Spies as the battle for fourth intensified. Spies responded with a masterful performance in the final four laps, the 25-year-old holding his nerve with some brilliantly aggressive riding to prevent de Puniet and Dovizioso from getting close to denying him fourth place. Spies took fourth by nearly two seconds at the conclusion of the 26-lap race to continue the excellent form he displayed when storming to a maiden podium at Silverstone last weekend. It is the second successive race that he has finished leading non-factory rider and he moved firmly into the battle for a top four championship placing.
Fellow American Colin Edwards extended his impressive record of scoring points in all six races so far this season with a solid ride to eighth place. Edwards continued to adapt to a new front-end geometry set-up he first tried this weekend and gained crucial information that he hopes will help him close the gap to the leading group in future races. The 21-points collected by Spies and Edwards today moved the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad into fourth place in the Team World Championship standings, the French squad once again the leading independent squad in the series.
Ben Spies - 4th, Time: +13.265
"I got a good start and was happy with that. I ran the soft rear tyre because it made the front load better for turning and the track temperature was hotter than all weekend. But it didn't work as well I'd hoped in the first ten laps and then when Dani and Casey came by I knew I was holding them up. But I was sticking with my game plan. I tried as hard as I could and 12 laps in Andrea passed me. But then his tyres dropped down to where I was with mine and I reeled him back in. The podium battle had gone away and then over the last three laps I heard Andrea and Randy putting the pressure on. I put my head down hard and managed to open a gap. I was sliding a lot but I managed to stretch away and I could cruise the last lap. I wanted at least fourth place today and I'm happy but I didn't have the pace for the podium like in Silverstone. I'm happy with the result and we go to Catalunya next week not knowing the track and I think we will be a little bit on the back foot again. But I'll do the same as the past two weeks and push as hard as I can."
Colin Edwards - 8th, Time: +28.991
"I can't be disappointed or upset with eighth place and wonder why I didn't get a better result when I rode my heart out. There was nothing else I could have done today but I know what we can improve. We've been experimenting with some different front-end settings and we've made it better, but I just lose a bit of time when I release the brakes and can't turn the bike how I want. And losing that little bit everywhere adds up by the end of the lap and makes it difficult. I know I rode harder than last year when I finished fourth, but I'm eighth. I guess that proves that those guys at the front are running an unbelievable pace. I was behind Nicky for a long time but I could never get close enough to put a pass on him. Looking at Ben it can be better and once again, I can't praise him enough. He's riding really good and I have to congratulate him because at the last two races he's been really impressive."
Herve Poncharal - Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team Manager
"I can't say enough good things about Ben. He made an incredible start and he almost took the lead. We knew Casey and Dani would push hard and in the first few laps I don't think Ben had a great feeling with the bike. But he dug deep and continued to push and I have to give him enormous credit for that. Dovizioso and de Puniet were pushing really hard at the end but Ben's strength is his pace on used tyres and he demonstrated this again. Being greedy we'd have liked to be on the podium again but fourth showed he is the best of the rest of the moment. His confidence is really high and he's proving a massive asset for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team. Colin had a strong race and after Silverstone he found a direction with the bike, which we hope will work in the future. He was pushing hard and never gave up and the points he scored have helped us move back into fourth place in the Team Championship. That is very important for us. I said that in 2010 the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team had its strongest line-up ever in MotoGP and I think today again we proved that."
-source: tech 3