Spies eyes Rookie prize, Edwards seeks season best Ben Spies will launch his bid to clinch the prestigious Rookie of the Year title from the front row of the grid in tomorrow's Australian MotoGP race, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider...
Spies eyes Rookie prize, Edwards seeks season best
Ben Spies will launch his bid to clinch the prestigious Rookie of the Year title from the front row of the grid in tomorrow's Australian MotoGP race, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider producing another excellent qualifying performance at a blustery Phillip Island.
Spies' confidence ahead of qualifying was sky high after he claimed a place in the top three in this morning's second practice session. And the former World Superbike champion was always a major threat to record his third front row of an amazing debut season after a terrific start to this afternoon's session.
Spies made further tweaks to the suspension set- up on his YZR-M1 machine this afternoon to gain crucial rear grip at the technical and spectacular 4.448km track. The modifications paid immediate dividends with Spies never outside of the top three once a lap of 1.31.387 put him on top of the timesheets with just 19-minutes completed.
In sunny but cool and breezy conditions that saw air temperatures marginally higher than yesterday at 12 degrees, the 26-year-old then posted a lap of 1.31.386 to consolidate his place in the top three.
His bid to try and challenge for a repeat of his incredible Indianapolis pole position though was foiled when light rain spots began to fall on the picturesque Phillip Island circuit.
Each time Spies commenced a fast lap on the softer compound Bridgestone rear tyre, he noticed rain spots on his visor. Sensibly avoiding taking unnecessary risks, he backed off but his earlier time still secure d him a brilliant front row start for the 27-lap race.
Colin Edwards had a productive day too, the 36-year-old in terrific form this morning to register the second fastest time behind home crowd favourite Casey Stoner. Edwards was able to comfortably lap inside the top ten during qualifying before modifications to improve turning performance enabled him to drastically drop his lap times.
The changes saw Edwards immediately go 0.5s faster, a 1.31.521 moving him from eighth to fourth with eight minutes remaining. He knocked a further tenth off on his next lap and looked like claiming his best qualifying result of the season until Marco Simoncelli dropped him back to fifth in the closing minutes. His best time of 1.31.415 was less than 0.1s behind Spies.
Ben Spies - Position: 3rd - Time: 1'31.386 - Laps: 23
"I'm really happy to be on the front row again but a little bit surprised. I was really happy with my pace and the lap times earlier in the session but each time I tried to go quicker in the last part I'd have spots of rain on my visor. I'd warm up the tyres and see nothing but as soon as I'd push going into the first corner to start a fast lap, I was getting a lot of rain on my visor. I didn't want to take a big risk when I knew I was already pretty close to the front row. My qualifying time is a pace that I can run in the race, so I'm happy with that. I'm confident because I haven't finished a session thinking I put in a great session. So if we can put everything together and ride really well and the bike is working good, maybe I can fight for the podium. I've got the lap time to make the podium but I just want to make the bike better for the last ten laps of the race. It would be nice to clinch the Rookie of the Year title tomorrow. It would be another box ticked in what has been a really po sitive season so far."
Colin Edwards - Position: 5th - Time: 1'31.415 - Laps: 26
"It was almost my best qualifying result of the season but I'm happy with fifth and being so close to Ben on the front row gives me a lot of confidence for the race. I have felt really good on the bike today and finishing second this morning gave me a lot of confidence. I had a fairly good set-up this morning with the bike but I was just missing a little bit of turning performance. We left the bike for the start of qualifying and I was basically doing the same lap times as this morning. So we made some changes to the front for my last rear tyre and immediately I was able to go half-a-second faster. It just felt easy and I gained so much confidence that I could put the bike where I wanted it to be on the track. I'm happy with my race pace and I'm ready, so hopefully I can get my best result of the year. We'll ha ve to see what the weather throws at us but I'm ready for anything."
-source: tech 3 yamaha