With the competition whittled down to 13 riders after a few mishaps at the British Grand Prix this weekend, the Americans – Ben Spies, Nicky Hayden and Colin Edwards – all finished in the top 10, with one on the podium.
The race itself was dominated by the winner, Fiat Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo, who extended his lead to 115 points (out of a perfect 125). The Spaniard’s teammate, Valentino Rossi, remains sidelined until his broken leg heals from the accident at Mugello, and he’s expected to return within five to six weeks.
But amidst all this Fiat Yamaha news comes some solid results for the Americans, most notably Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Spies.
Ben Spies: 3rd
The 25-year-old rookie of Texas displayed much talent at Sunday’s Silverstone event, the first visit from MotoGP since 1986. This will be one in the Spies history book, considering it was his first-ever podium finish in the premier class after only his ninth start. His previous best result was fifth during the opening race at Qatar.
The Yamaha YZR-M1 rider was unfamiliar with the track, but so was every other rider, which created an equal playing field. Spies started in seventh position on the grid, and by lap seven he was in fifth, having caught the three riders battling for second – Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso, LCR Honda’s Randy de Puniet and Ducati Marlboro’s Hayden.
He was receiving much pressure from Hayden’s teammate, Casey Stoner, but kept a rhythm, finally passing De Puniet for fourth on lap 17 of 20. He began chasing Hayden for the final podium spot, and would take the Kentucky Kid on the closing lap at Abbey Corner
Ben Spies says: "I didn’t expect to get my first podium so quickly, especially after yesterday which wasn’t the best for me. I got a decent start but once I got by Dani and Simoncelli I just tried to stay on the back of the group battling for the podium. Once I realized I could stay in contention I just tried to save the rear tire as much as I could and it all worked out. The last few laps I pushed as hard as I could and made some good passes and it is great for Yamaha and the Monster Tech 3 Team. I’m also pretty happy about it to o and this is good for my confidence."
"That last lap was difficult to pass Nicky but I got a really good drive onto the back straight and tried to pass him at Stowe Corner but he came back by. On the next straight I managed to get by him and then had to ride quite defensively on the last part of the lap. I was on the edge but I had to go for the podium and it worked out. It will be hard to duplicate this but right now I’ll let it sink in and make the most of it. But on this day I can say I was the third best rider in the world and it is a good feeling."
Nicky Hayden: 4th
If one word can describe Hayden’s season thus far, it would be consistent. Out of five races, the 28-year-old finished in fourth a consistent four times, but had one DNF at Mugello. During the Italian Grand Prix in Mugello, Hayden ran his GP10 wide and slid into the gravel on the sixth lap.
But there was a different story at Silverstone. Hayden started from fifth on the grid and got up front fast, battling with De Puniet before finally getting into third with four laps remaining. All was well for the 2006 World Champion, until Spies overtook him at the quick Abbey Corner on the last lap, robbing yet another podium position at the end of a race.
Nicky Hayden says: "It’s a pretty frustrating result because the team did a great job with the bike after the warm-up and it was a lot of fun to ride. Unfortunately I didn’t get a good start – we’ve been having some little clutch problems and didn’t get away well. The race was really fun, everybody was going back and forth, I was able to make some moves in the corners but just didn’t really have the top speed in the straights. It’s hard for me to dress this result up because I’m not happy to finish fourth again but the good thing is we were in the hunt again. We did something good with the bike today so hopefully it will work at Assen, a circuit I love."
Colin Edwards: 9th
Spies teammate didn’t have much luck from the beginning at Silverstone. The 36-year-old qualified in 10th after struggling with finding a rhythm and proper set-up on his M1 during Friday and Saturday’s practice sessions and Saturday’s qualifying. But his team worked on the bike into the night, and Edwards was more satisfied with the machine on race day.
Colin Edwards says: "I gave it everything out there. We went faster in the race than we did in qualifying and made a couple of changes to the bike after Saturday and it seemed to work a little bit better. Over the first few laps I lost touch a bit with the guys and whenever Stoner came past me I thought I’d catch onto the back of him, but trying to do that to him his almost impossible.
"I was happy with the way I rode. I rode well and looking at my lap times there were some good times in there and right towards the end I was ten seconds back, so what can you do? You just have to keep pushing and that’s all I could do. We move on and we have some more knowledge and experience about what we need to do for Assen. It’s a track I like and it’s quite free-flowing, not so stop-start. I usually go well there so I’m ready."