Yamaha’s Ben Spies achieved his first podium of the season since August 2010.
Ben Spies put a difficult start to 2011 behind him in Catalunya as the factory Yamaha rider claimed his first MotoGP podium since last August. Two sixth places in the opening four races had left the Texan languishing outside the top ten in the points rankings. But he survived intense pressure from Italia Andrea Dovizioso to finish yesterday’s 25-lap race in third, securing his first podium since his home round in Indianapolis nearly ten months ago. Spies, who had crashed out of two races so far this season, said he was relieved to have broken his podium duck, though he never looked like threatening team-mate Jorge Lorenzo in second place.
The 2010 Rookie of the Year said: “It wasn’t really a lonely ride because Andrea like normal was 0.8s behind me for the whole race and he was like a little mosquito at a barbecue, he just wouldn’t go away. It didn’t matter what time I did he always did the same time with the exact same pressure. I got a really good start but for the first couple of laps I was a little bit wary. We made a change to the front forks that we haven’t used all weekend and it was a bit of a risk but we thought could make it better and we did. But I was a little uncomfortable for the first four laps. Once we got the pace going I was doing good times but we lost touch to Jorge and Casey (Stoner). And then I just rode as hard and consistent as I could without making any mistakes because I knew Dovi was behind me and Valentino (Rossi) was right behind him. I needed to keep the laps strong but it was good for my confidence and good for the team too after Estoril and everything that happened. I feel like I did a good race for them and we need to take this to the next few races coming up. We’ve got Silverstone coming up and I’m looking forward to that. It’s going to be good and I’m hoping the bad luck and the worst tracks are out of the way and we just use this momentum to keep going.”
Cal Crutchlow warmed up for his British Grand Prix debut at Silverstone this weekend with a career best seventh place finish in Catalunya MotoGP round. The British rider got the better of a tussle with factory Ducati rider Nicky Hayden on Lap 10 to secure a lonely but deserved seventh. His result bettered the eighth place finishes he secured in Jerez and Estoril earlier this season and for the first time in his rookie campaign, he finished top non-factory rider.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider said: “That’s my best result in MotoGP and of course I’m happy, but I’d rather have got a result like that in a more entertaining race. It was just a test of concentration for most of the race once I’d passed Nicky and it was quite lonely. I caught him really quickly but once I got by I’d obviously used up my rear tire trying to chase him down because I struggled for grip after that. When the spots of rain came it was quite difficult. The white flags were being waved like there was a monsoon but there was only rain in the last three corners. Part of me was looking forward to having a flag-to-flag race because it might have given me a chance of fighting with the group at the front, but the rain never got worse than a few spots on the visor. I still managed to pull away from Nicky but I finished 26 seconds behind Casey, and that is not too bad considering I’d never seen this place before. If I hadn’t backed off a little I’m sure I could have finished about 20 seconds back and that was good enough for the top six last year. Sixth to eighth position is where I’m at the moment but it is a good confidence boost as well to finish as the top non-factory rider. Nobody can ride this package harder than me and now I’m looking forward to Silverstone. I’m sure the support is going to be incredible and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Catalunya MotoGP: Colin Edwards denied race start
Colin Edwards saw his record of never missing a MotoGP race in his career ended yesterday in Catalunya when he was banned from racing after failing a late medical check on his injured right shoulder. The Texan shocked the paddock by declaring his intention to start the 25-lap race, just over 24 hours after he’d undergone successful surgery to insert a titanium plate and 13 screws to stabilize a broken right collarbone. Edwards had crashed his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 machine during a rain-hit second practice session on Friday afternoon and broken his collarbone into seven pieces.
The injury seemed certain to rule Edwards out of the Catalunya race and this weekend’s British MotoGP race at Silverstone. But incredibly he wanted to start the Montmelo race to preserve his appearance record having made 141 successive starts in MotoGP since his debut for Aprilia in 2003.
But he failed a pre-race medical and said: “I’m a little bit disappointed with the decision not to let me ride because while it’s not a lifelong ambition never to miss a MotoGP race, it was a run I was pretty proud of. I understand the decision but my shoulder feels great. Dr. Xavier Mir has done an amazing job on my collarbone because it was smashed, but it was never my intention to do the full race. I just wanted to start, do a couple of laps and pull in. I only considered it because I was here in Barcelona and it seemed pointless breaking the streak. I’m too big and too old to get upset, but I’m going to rest up now and concentrate on getting ready for Silverstone. I know I can race next weekend and I’m already looking forward to it. I can’t remember the last time I missed a race and I definitely don’t like watching on TV, so I’m desperate to get back working with my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew.”