MotoGP Americans: TIM TT Assen Report
Ben Spies, the Monster Energy Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider, made a blistering start from fourth on the grid to take up the tough challenge of fighting with dominant MotoGP world championship leader Jorge Lorenzo in the early stages.
Nicky Hayden got away well from the second row but got blocked by traffic into turn one and lost several positions. He managed to pass Colin Edwards and Marco Simoncelli within a handful of laps but had lost contact with the front group and was unable to reproduce his pace from practice, finishing in 7th.
Fellow American Colin Edwards continued to adapt to a new front-end geometry and extended his record of scoring points in all six GP motorcycle races while finishing back in eighth place.
In the end, it was Ben Spies who produced another outstanding American MotoGP ride in the 80th running of the historic Dutch TT, the Texan thrilling a crowd of nearly 100,000 fans with a stunning fourth place.
Spies opted for a softer compound Bridgestone rear tire and was able to kept the hard charge Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner at bay in the opening laps before he slipped down to fourth on lap four.
Unable to match the pace of the leaders, Spies became locked in a close dice with Andrea Dovizioso. The Italian looked at ease in fourth spot before Spies mounted a brilliant attack on lap 15 from fifth position.
The American then produced a brilliantly executed overtake on Dovizioso at the final chicane on lap 16 and was able to use his superior speed to pull out a comfortable gap over the Repsol Honda rider.
Spies took fourth by nearly two seconds at the conclusion of the 26-lap race to continue the excellent form he displayed when storming to a maiden Moto GP podium at Silverstone last weekend.
It is the second successive race that he has finished leading non-factory rider and he moved firmly into the battle for a top four championship placing and further secures the top rookie spot.
Nicky Hayden says: “Seventh place isn’t exactly the best but as always I’m trying to look at the positives: after making a good start on Thursday we had a difficult session on Friday morning with a breakdown and a crash, when we also wrecked a set of tires, and that obviously made things hard for us.”
His team manager said: “Nicky lost time in the first corner and lost contact with the leading group and he wasn’t able to catch them back up. The problems he had in practice didn’t help him to find a set-up that he could trust but I am sure that he will be back in front at the next race.”
Ben Spies says: “I got a good start and was happy with that. I ran the soft rear tyre because it made the front load better for turning and the track temperature was hotter than all weekend. I’m happy with the result and we go to Catalunya next week not knowing the track and I think we will be a little bit on the back foot again. But I’ll do the same as the past two weeks and push as hard as I can.”
His team manager said: “I can’t say enough good things about Ben. He made an incredible start and he almost took the lead. We knew Casey and Dani would push hard and in the first few laps I don’t think Ben had a great feeling with the bike. But he dug deep and continued to push and I have to give him enormous credit for that.”
Colin Edwards says: “There was nothing else I could have done today but I know what we can improve. I was behind Nicky for a long time but I could never get close enough to put a pass on him. Looking at Ben it can be better and once again, I can’t praise him enough. He’s riding really good and I have to congratulate him because at the last two races he’s been really impressive.”
His team manager said: “Colin had a strong race and after Silverstone he found a direction with the bike, which we hope will work in the future. He was pushing hard and never gave up and the points he scored have helped us move back into fourth place in the Team Championship.”