Fifth for fast learner Spies in sunny Spain Ben Spies slipped seamlessly and impressively back into learner mode today, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider quickly mastering the challenging Catalunya circuit near Barcelona with a supremely composed...
Fifth for fast learner Spies in sunny Spain
Ben Spies slipped seamlessly and impressively back into learner mode today, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider quickly mastering the challenging Catalunya circuit near Barcelona with a supremely composed display.
Temperatures soared to a physically demanding 37 degrees during the opening MotoGP practice session and Spies was able to produce a hot pace with a flying lap of 1.43.854.
That put the reigning World Superbike champion in fifth place on the timesheets as the 25-year-old made significant progress with improving corner entry performance on his YZR-M1 machine.
Methodically building up his speed on a track he'd never seen before, Spies was able to knock one second off his previous best lap time on his final quick lap to finish just 0.595s behind fastest rider Jorge Lorenzo.
Using the harder front and rear Bridgestone tyre options to cope with the extreme track temperature that hit 53 degrees, Spies was just 0.129s behind Andrea Dovizioso in fourth to once again finish top non-factory rider.
Fellow American Colin Edwards was also delighted with the progress he made with the turning performance of his Yamaha.
Weight distribution changes gave Edwards much more confidence on corner entry and he put the modifications to good use.
A best lap of 1.44.551 put him ninth with Edwards spending the entire session using the same hard compound Bridgestone rear tyre to gain crucial information in preparation for Sunday's 25-lap race.
Ben Spies - Position: 5th, Time: 1'43.854, Laps: 27
"The track is fun but the longer turns are pretty hard to learn. The last three turns are definitely a little bit different but I felt I was slowly getting to grips with it and I'm really surprised I ended so high up in fifth. I went out on one bike and just worked on learning the track and when I switched to the other bike I found the turning was a lot better. I fixed the twitchy feel I was having on the front and that was a positive. Then I put the hard front tyre on and it was a hundred times better for me and it ended up being a really good session. We changed the geometry in the front-end and got the bike turning even better. I didn't have to hold the front brake to help the bike turn. Now I can let off the brake, throw it into the corner and get it turned. It is obvious rear grip is vital here in the hot conditions and the key is going to be who can set the bike up for the end of the race when there's not much grip. I'm looking decent on speed right now but we've got to manage it and make sure I'm fast for the end of the race."
Colin Edwards - Position: 9th, Time: 1'44.551, Laps: 21
"I think I went about a tenth faster than my best time in last year's Friday session. It's the same rider, the same tyres, pretty much the same bike with a slightly different engine, so I can honestly say I'm trying my hardest and not getting any slower! I feel good and I'm definitely making some strides with the bike. We put some more weight on the front and got it turning a lot better. I feel a lot more comfortable and the bike is not running wide now when I get into the corner. It has been a nightmare with the turning this year but finally we've made big progress in that area. I went out on the hard rear tyre and I just stayed on that for the wh ole session. It is really hot out there and there wasn't a lot of grip and we'll need to make some changes overnight to the rear suspension because tyre management in those conditions is going to be crucial."
-source: tech 3