Tech3, Monster Energy Yamaha rider, Ben Spies, fresh off his podium finish at Silverstone (in only his 9th GP career start), sat down to discuss the MotoGP season thus far.
Asked about his 3rd place finish this past weekend in the UK, and if a spot on the box happened earlier in his rookie season than he thought it would, Spies responded, “It’s definitely earlier and hasn’t quite sunk in yet, just because obviously, after England, you know, Sunday, we went straight down to London and flew here to Assen and we’re right back in it this weekend.”
Spies added: “It’s kind of a good thing to keep (in) a rhythm and try to keep some confidence going but, you know my goal every race this year was to be in the top ten, and top fives would be, you know, a race win for me, so finishing on the podium was a big confidence booster, it leads into an important couple of weeks of racing for us, and it came at a real good part of the season… I’m feeling pretty comfortable.”
Asked about the pass he put on fellow American, Nicky Hayden, to take over the last podium position at Silverstone, Spies answered, “We tried one at the beginning of the last lap and didn’t get it done… Nicky saw obviously that I was there when I tried to pass him earlier in the lap so he was definitely riding a little defensive but also trying to catch second place.”
“Off the back straightaway he just got in a little bit too hot and luckily I was close enough where I could capitalize on it, if I’d a been another bike length or two behind I wouldn’t have been able to do anything, but we were able to sneak by him (on the) inside and I didn’t have to do my planned pass which was going to be two corners later.”
When asked about the trap speeds recorded at Silverstone, where Dani Pedrosa recorded a top speed of nearly 324 kilometers per hour compared to the Tech3 Yamaha’s of Ben Spies and Colin Edwards tapping out at 315, Spies responded, “The top speed looks bad, but I think it stems a little bit more just from acceleration off the corner which gives you the mile an hour at the end of the straightaway. The top speed of the bike actually isn’t so bad, it’s just kind of getting off the corner.”
When asked about his status as top rookie and if it was one of his stated goals this year; to beat the likes of premiere class rookies Simoncelli, Barbera and the rest of the young blood in the class, Spies diplomatically came back, “Right now, for me, I’ve got my own goals and kind of my own game plan of what I need to be doing and the learning curve I need to be doing. We’re a little bit of a handicap to both of them, I mean the Americans, you know, have a lot more experience than me in (the) MotoGP class and then the rookies have a lot more experience knowing the tracks in general and knowing where they’re going when they get there. For me, I’m really not setting any goals of trying to top any crazy charts, we’re just trying to progress and get better every weekend and I think we’ve been doing a decent job of that.”
Spies has made such an impressive start to the season in his nascent GP career, one has to wonder if his time in America, battling arch rival and former teammate, Mat Mladin (one of the toughest competitors in the world) is still reaping benefits, having served as a solid precursor going to Europe-as evidenced by Spies winning the 2009 WSBK Championship in his rookie year in that class in 2009.
The MotoGP circus travels to Assen, in the Netherlands this weekend, a track that Spies has some experience with, having won race 1 last year at the WSBK round at the famous circuit, and leading the second race before a crash sidelined him. So the Texan knows his way around the circuit and is confident about where the set-up of his M-1 is. When asked how he was feeling about the race this weekend, Spies responded, “I’m looking forward to it.”