Ben Spies and Colin Edwards will start the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team’s much-anticipated home race in Le Mans from 12th and 8th on the grid respectively.
Concentrating on improving the chassis balance of his YZR-M1 machine in today’s qualifying session, Edwards gave the large French crowd supporting the Provence-based team reason to cheer when he surged to the top of the timesheets in brilliant fashion with 25 minutes remaining.
The Texan was able to lap consistently in the top five as the session reached an exciting climax. But within striking distance of a top six place after clocking a best time of 1.34.304, he had to settle for eighth position, just 0.100s behind Andrea Dovizioso’s factory Honda.
Spies proved he’s got the bravery to match the speed in this afternoon’s session, which was run in sunny and humid conditions that saw air temperature peak at 28 degrees.
The Texan suffered a big crash in the early stages of this morning’s final practice session when he lost control of his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 machine at the entry to the Dunlop chicane.
Spies was thrown several metres in the air before landing heavily on the ground. He suffered a badly swollen left foot, but despite discomfort when downshifting and changing direction,
Spies quickly built up his pace and confidence despite missing nearly a whole hour of crucial set-up time.
Only a quarter of the session had elapsed when he broke into the top ten and the 25-year-old continued to defy the pain with a series of consistent laps. But his courageous efforts unfortunately didn’t see him maintain his place in the top ten.
A best time of 1.34.920 left him 12th on the grid, though Spies remains confident that he can challenge in the battle for the top six in tomorrow’s 28-lap encounter.
Ben Spies (12th 1.34.920 – 27 laps with one crash) says: "After missing most of the morning session, I ‘m not too upset to be where I’m at. Even injury free I wasn’t going to be on the front row or anything like that. I just made a mistake this morning. I definitely wasn’t starting a fast lap but I might have been going a little too hard for the rear tyre at the time."
"When it flicked me, my foot was half off the peg and when it snapped back it just completely rolled the ankle and the knee. There are no broken bones and it’s nothing major. The pain level is not that bad on the bike but it i s mainly downshifting gears. It’s a matter of getting my foot back into position for the corner after shifting. I have to move my whole leg to do it. It’ll be a little tough race but it won’t hold me back."
"The foot doesn’t feel good now but hopefully for 28 laps I can put it out of my mind and get a good result for Tech 3 and Monster."
Colin Edwards (8th 1.34.304 – 27 laps) says: "I’m riding as hard as I can but I’ve only ended up in eighth position. Those guys at the front have dropped half-a-second off the pole time from last year and while I hate to say it, I couldn’t do a mid-33."
"The bike feels good and I feel good but it’s just really hard work trying to run the pace of the front group. We have worked really hard this weekend and we seem to have got a fix on some of the problems we’ve had at the first two races. I’m much more comfortable on the bike and the feeling with the front-end is coming better. I liked the harder tyre more than the soft tyre today."
"The soft tyre felt like it moved a little bit too much but the race tyre I feel really comfortable with. Getting into a rhythm quick is going to be the key tomorrow. It is going to be a long and tough race but it is a big race for Tech 3 and Monster, so as always I’ll be pushing as hard as I can for a good result."
1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Fiat Yamaha Team 1’33.408
2. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team 1’33.462
3. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 1’33.573
4. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro Team 1’33.824
5. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Marlboro Team 1’33.845
6. Randy de Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP 1’34.074
7. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Repsol Honda Team 1’34.204
8. Colin Edwards (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1’34.304
9. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1’34.306
10. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) Pramac Green Team 1’34.514
11. Marco Melandri (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini 1’34.523
12. Ben Spies (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1’34.920