Spies settles in on MotoGP debut

Ben Spies made his MotoGP debut today at Donington Park, taking part in two practice sessions for Sunday's British Grand Prix. Filling in for the injured Loris Capirossi, Spies is riding one of the Rizla Suzukis for the weekend. Spies, 23, is a...

Ben Spies made his MotoGP debut today at Donington Park, taking part in two practice sessions for Sunday's British Grand Prix. Filling in for the injured Loris Capirossi, Spies is riding one of the Rizla Suzukis for the weekend.

Spies, 23, is a two-time AMA Superbike champion, having won titles in 2006 and 2007 for the Suzuki works-backed Yoshimura team. He also leads this year's championship over six-time champion Mat Mladin, with seven wins so far.

In spite of taking over a second off his lap times in the course of the day, Spies still has his work cut out for him, as he finished the day well back, 17th on the timesheets, with a time of 1:30.766.

"I'm not used to being this far back in the field, but with what we are trying to achieve here this weekend I've got to be pleased with how it has gone today," he said. "This is the first time I've been on this bike and the first time I've ever been to Donington, so realistically only being about a second off a decent pace is pretty good. I'm getting more comfortable on the bike and it's working great, the crew have been real good and it's me right now that needs to learn the track a bit more every time out."

Chris Vermeulen, Capirossi's usual teammate, is well familiar with both the track and the bike, and set a time of 1:29.410, good for ninth fastest.

"Ben's performance today has been outstanding," said Paul Denning, the Rizla Suzuki team manager. "We have to remember he only rode the 2007 GSV-R for about two hours at Valencia in November last year, and that Donington Park is completely new to him. Learning a new racetrack is one thing, but learning to ride a new machine with different tyres on a new racetrack is another thing altogether - and pretty difficult to do as well!"

Spies has been linked to a World Superbike ride for the 2009 season, but a strong showing at Donington could tilt the odds toward a MotoGP ride. Spies' fans will be paying close attention this weekend.

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Ben Spies , Chris Vermeulen , Paul Denning