After the long five-month winter break it was an eager MotoGP paddock that gathered on the opening practice session of 2010 in Qatar.
Ben Spies made an impressive start to round-off the first day in sixth position against some staunch motorcycle racing competitors including the World Champion Valentino Rossi.
Although a full-time rookie, Spies already had four MotoGP wildcard races under his belt but still this opening showing was a show of confidence.
Spies then proceeded to finish his first ever MotoGP qualifying session in a solid 11th position although he was disappointed not to have been able to make more use of the softer Bridgestone tire option. The determined and unassuming Spies remained quite and waited patiently for the race.
Once the race got underway, Tech3’s Spies produced a thrilling first lap on his M1 and gained four places to claim seventh position. Later he was elevated into the top six after Casey Stoner crashed out.
Pursuing Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo on the Factory M1, Spies once again demonstrated his intense speed on worn tires as he threatened to haul himself into contention for the podium battle.
For several laps, Spies was the fastest man on track. In the end he ended with the fourth best time of 1.56.087, clocked on lap 17, finishing just over 2.1 seconds off 3rd position and over 5.6 second ahead of Randy De Puniet in 6th.
Veteran teammate and fellow Texan, Colin Edwards, had a tough start to his MotoGP season but rode a determined race, despite some minor rear grip issues, to finish 8th at nearly 16 seconds behind Spies.
Spies produced a solid opening round performance in Qatar and a pleasing Yamaha Tech 3 debut in fifth position. His was one of the top performances of the evening, storming through from 11th on the starting grid to a career-best fifth in only his fifth MotoGP start.
Ben Spies and the rest of the riders now have a short break before heading to the next (2nd Round of 18) MotoGP World Championship race at Motegi in Japan.