After the seventh round of the 2010 MotoGP season held at the Circuit de Catalunya, Ben Spies continues to lead the rookie of the year challenge.
Starting from fifth on the grid, Spies found it difficult to find a consistent and fast pace in the opening half of the 25-lap encounter and he dropped down to 10th.
Adapting his style to cope with the lack of grip as track temperatures soared to 49 degrees, Spies was able to up his pace dramatically in the final ten laps.
He swept by the Loris Capirossi on lap 23 and then embarked on a hot pursuit of home favorite Alvaro Bautista. But despite a gallant effort to catch the Spaniard, Spies just missed out on fifth by under 0.2s.
6th – Ben Spies says: “I rode as hard as I could and did everything I could. I made a couple of small mistakes and definitely should have been fifth. I’d have caught Bautista in time to pass him but I took too long to get around Loris. I’m not really satisfied with sixth because a couple of guys crashed out in front of me and that helped make us look a bit better.”
Marco Simoncelli´s luck took another bad turn today as the former 250cc World Champion crashed out of what looked set to be his best performance in MotoGP.
It was a great shame for `Super Sic´, who was chasing down the lead group when he lost control of his Honda RC212V.
The day also marked the 34th birthday of the late Daijiro Kato, former Gresini Team member, who was killed at Suzuka on April 6th during the first race of the 2003 MotoGP season.
DNF – Marco Simoncelli says: “I was catching De Puniet but then I let off the brakes a little too early as I entered the corner and the front folded. What a shame! Today we were capable of finishing fourth and that would have given us a massive boost. It is my first race crash but we didn´t want it! ”
Alvaro Bautista scored a career best MotoGP result of fifth, as he rode a steady race from start to finish. He got a good start from ninth on the grid and was up into sixth place at the end of lap one.
Bautista benefitted from Andrea Dovizioso and Marco Simoncelli crashing out when they were in front of the Rizla Suzuki rider. He held his fifth position, even as he came under pressure from Ben Spies on the final lap.
This was a strong end to a very promising weekend for the Spaniard in front of his home fans and the Suzuki GSV-R team’s best result of the season.
5th – Alvaro Bautista says: “I was very concentrated at the start because I knew if I could start well I could stay with the group in front. I did that, but I did have a bit of a problem in the race with the hard-braking places because I didn’t feel that the bike was entering the corners like in the practice. In the last laps I saw that Spies was coming very fast and I tried to push a bit more, but the rear tire was used up and I couldn’t do any more, so I rode tight for the last lap to make sure I got fifth position.”
After three races outside the top ten, Aspar rookie rider Héctor Barberá was back in the top ten at Montmeló. The rookie rode a slow opening three-laps before hooking on the back wheel of Ducati factory rider Nicky Hayden.
Nine laps from the end, Barberá was up to tenth, and he kept the place until the cheqered flag was shown. Lacking confidence in his front end for the entire weekend, the race result was the most positive part of the weekend for the MotoGP rookie.
10th – Hector Barber says: “My start wasn’t great, and I tried to follow Hayden during the race. Our main gripe is having to fight to control the front end; from lap fifteen onwards the steering was locking up on nearly every corner. The majority of riders were on hard tires, but I chose a soft front -simply because I didn’t feel at all comfortable with the hard version. The end of the race had two fast turns in which I was sliding everywhere, losing me nearly half a second.”
Aleix Espargarò crashed out during the fifth lap, when he was in eleventh position and while trying to reduce the gap to the riders in front of him. Aleix was rather competitive during every session, but crashed twice on the weekend, once in the warm up and once in the race, and this compromised his home GP race weekend.
DNF – Aleix Espargarò says: “During the first lap I have over take Hayden, then its trajectory at the end of the braking line was a bit large and I went off the track to try to not hit him. Thanks to the exit road I didn’t fall and I had to cut the first curve so that I have regaining my position. During the fifth lap I was pushing hard to reduce the gap that Capirossi had ahead of me. Unfortunately, in a corner my bike had closed the steering wheel while I was braking and the bike crashed on the asphalt. I tried to get back in the race but unfortunately my bike was off.”
After Simoncelli crashed-out, Barbera is now the only rookie to have earned points in each of the seven rounds to date. Despite Bautista’s season-best fifth place finish, he only gained one point on rookie leader Spies who finished right behind him in sixth.
Hiroshi Aoyama, who had a nasty crash in Silverstone in which he fractured his vertebra T12, did not race. In fact, the 28 year-old Japanese rookie has not taken part in the last three Grand Prix races due to this injury.
Spies is now 20 points clear of the non-American rookies with 59 points total on the year. He is still 2 points behind the injured Valentine Rossi who has not raced in the last three rounds… while the rookie leader sits 106 points behind overall MotoGP leader Jorge Lorenzo.
2010 MotoGP Rookie of the Year Classification
Rider (Nation) – Points (QAT SPA FRA ITA GBR NED CAT)
1) Ben Spies (USA) – 59 – (11 0 0 9 16 13 10)
2) Marco Simoncelli (Italy) – 39 – (5 5 6 7 9 7 0)
3) Hector Barbera (Spain) – 34 – (4 3 8 4 5 4 6)
4) Aleix Espargaro (Spain) – 28 – (1 7 8 6 6 0)
5) Alvaro Bautista (Spain) – 25 – (6 0 2 4 2 11)
6) Aoyama Hiroshi (Japan) – 18 – (6 2 5 5 0 0 0)