Spies lights up 2010 MotoGP opener
Ben Spies produced a dazzling performance in Qatar tonight to end a stunning Monster Yamaha Tech 3 debut in fifth position.
In an enthralling 22-lap race under the Losail International Circuit floodlights, Spies produced one of the
performances of the evening to storm through from 11th on the grid to a career best top five in only his fifth MotoGP start.
Spies produced a thrilling first lap to gain four places and claim seventh before he was elevated into the top six by a surprise mistake from race leader Casey Stoner on lap six.
Pursuing fellow Yamaha YZR-M1 rider Jorge Lorenzo, Spies once again demonstrated his devastating speed on worn tyres as he threatened to haul himself into contention for the podium battle involving Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso.
For several laps, Spies was the fastest man on track and he ended with the fourth best time of 1.56.087 clocked on lap 17. Opting to settle for fifth as a dramatic battle for the podium unfolded in front of him, Spies finished just over two seconds off third position. And impressively on only his second race for Yamaha, the reigning World Superbike champion was less than four seconds away from race winner and reigning world champion Valentino Rossi.
Fellow Texan Colin Edwards had a tough start to his eighth MotoGP campaign but rode a determined race despite some minor rear grip issues.
Edwards guided his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 to eighth position having brilliantly kept the hard-charging duo of Loris Capirossi and Hiroshi Aoyama at bay.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad now heads to the Far East later this month for the all-important Japanese MotoGP, home of Yamaha.
Ben Spies 5th -- 11 points
"I'm happy because I knew we had the bike and I knew I was riding decent. Some things didn't go my way in qualifying and while it wasn't really a smooth weekend, it came together in the race. I gave 110 per cent every lap and that's all I can do and at the end I came out with a decent result. They key was that I knew we had a good pace on race tyres. I got a good start and I was quite aggressive in the first couple of laps to try and make up some places and keep contact with the front group. My confidence was growing in the middle of the race and I could see Jorge and Valentino and those guys not a million miles in front of me. I wasn't catching them a lot, but I knew for a few laps in the middle of the race I was definitely the quickest out of the top five. Maybe if I'd have qualified higher I might have been in that fight for the podium at the end. But I can't be too greedy and this is a good start for me and gives me a platform to build on for the rest of the season."
Colin Edwards 8th -- 8 points
"Tonight wasn't really any surprise because I struggled all weekend and I never seemed to get on top of the problems we had. We made the bike a little better for the race and it was certainly more comfortable to ride and that showed in the improved lap times, but it obviously wasn't enough to get close to that top five. I rode my hardest but tonight was one of the times when you're just riding around problems. The front grip was great but I was lacking a bit on the rear and I couldn't get a set-up that pushed the tyre on the ground. As soon I accelerated the rear tyre would spin, but we actually found out some things for the future that will help me. The Yamaha is obviously working good when you look at the result and I want to congratulate Ben because he did a great job. Hopefully next time out I'll be a bit closer to the fight."
Herve Poncharal - Team Manager
"Everybody was expecting great things from Ben this year and we have to say already that he has shown what he is capable of tonight. We were a bit disappointed when he was only 11th in qualifying but we knew it would be better for the race because he was so strong on hard tyres and we know this is a major strength of Ben's. And he is a racer who is very aggressive and he made up a few places early on, which is always crucial in MotoGP. His lap times were incredibly fast and was he closing on the leading group for the whole race and this is a fantastic start for Ben with the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team. It was a tough weekend for Colin but he scored some valuable points and found out some interesting information on the set-up of the bike that will help him for the future. Overall it is a great team performance and we move to Japan now full of confidence in what is a very important race for Yamaha."