Ben Spies: “On the sixth lap the tire made a massive drop and it kept getting worse and worse for the rest of the race. I was taking some really big risks while going slow and it was very frustrating.”
Rapidly deteriorating rear tire grip cost Yamaha’s Ben Spies the chance to fight for a fourth MotoGP podium of the season at the Motorland Aragon track in Spain. The Texan held third place for the opening eight laps before he was unable to keep a hard charging Marco Simoncelli at bay. He claimed third back on Lap 10 when Simoncelli made a mistake and almost ran off track, but he could only hold onto the final rostrum position until Lap 14 when Factory Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo moved through. Spies then slipped back into fifth when Simoncelli swept by on Lap 17.
“It was pretty crappy,” said Spies. “The first few laps I was happy and got a good start and was aggressive in the first lap but I knew I couldn’t hold the lead the way Casey (Stoner) and Dani (Pedrosa) were riding. But I was putting an advantage on fourth and felt strong, but then the rear tire made a really big drop. Usually the tires drop once at about ten laps and then again with five laps to go, but they stay very consistent and you can ride through it and slide around. But on the sixth lap the tire made a massive drop and it kept getting worse and worse for the rest of the race. I was taking some really big risks while going slow and it was very frustrating and clear on TV that I had really good pace, but then all of a sudden this just hit us. I tried to ride around it but I would have crashed. I was honestly scared running a second and a half off the pace, so to get a top-five after all that I was happy. But I believe we had a podium chance.”
Spies said he had never experienced such a sudden loss of grip with Bridgestone tires since he moved to MotoGP in 2010.
“This was not normal and I’ve never had a feeling like this from the rear. I’m not saying it was a Bridgestone problem, maybe it was a setting problem. I did ten fast laps in the warm-up and then in the race it made a nasty drop and it started going. I’ve never had a tire that looked like this one. There was a lot of rubber off the tire and the shape of the tire wasn’t a normal shape. The left was worse but the right side also made a drop that it hadn’t made before. I struggled on both sides of the tire and we didn’t make any set-up changes from the end of qualifying to the race.”
Following a third-place finish at Aragon Jorge Lorenzo is starting to doubt his chances at defending his title from Casey Stoner.
Spies’ teammate, Jorge Lorenzo, has admitted that he faces an almost impossible task to prevent Casey Stoner from taking his MotoGP crown in 2011. Lorenzo finished third at the end of a tough weekend for Yamaha’s factory squad at the Motorland Aragon, but Stoner’s crushing victory moved the Aussie into a commanding lead in the championship with just four races remaining. Stoner rode another faultless race with Lorenzo finishing more than 14 seconds adrift.
“I think the surprise is to be only 44-points behind Casey, because he has dominated the championship and he has won a lot of races,” Lorenzo said. “So to be that close to him is not so bad. Our only hope is that something happens. Hopefully not something bad for Casey, but without this it is almost impossible.”
Lorenzo said one of the crucial factors in the 2011 title chase was the significant improvement in the performance of Honda’s RC212V machine. The bike has won 10 out of 14 races so far this season, which is only one less than HRC won in the previous four years.
“In the last part of 2010 the Honda took one step and it was very fast and competitive,” said Lorenzo. “This year they have taken another step at the beginning of the season. We at Yamaha won three world titles in a row and the triple crown, so we stayed a bit calmer and didn’t take so many risks. Honda hasn’t won so much and they have done a great job.”