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Ben Spies Getting In Tune With His Factory Ride

In his first year on a factory Yamaha, Ben Spies has thus far been quite inconsistent.  Inconsistent enough that he sits in seventh place in the points after five races, just two spots ahead of ninth place Marco Simoncelli (Honda), another talented young rider who has had an inconsistent start to the 2011 campaign.

Spies grabbed a spot on the podium when he finished third at Catalunya last weekend, however.  More importantly, his performance in comparison to current World champion Jorge Lorenzo, his teammate aboard the same bike, was quite impressive.  Lorenzo, riding at his home track, gave it everything he had this weekend to grab the third position in qualifying and second position in the race.  Spies qualified with essentially the identical time to Lorenzo (less than a tenth of a second difference), and finished the race less than two seconds behind Lorenzo to take third place.

More than once, Spies was faster than Lorenzo in pre-season testing.  Could Spies begin to out-qualify and out-place Lorenzo at future rounds?  At least occasionally?  We will be watching closely when the series visits Silverstone next weekend.

14 Comments

  1. Norm G. says:

    Q: “Could Spies begin to out-qualify and out-place Lorenzo at future rounds? At least occasionally?”

    A: NO… he’s a yank who can’t attract sponsorship dollars for yamaha, or at a minimum, increase ticket sales for dorna at home rounds. his value is that americans make the best “2nd seat” riders and are rarely seen as threatening to their european team mates.

    • Ruefus says:

      When was the last time an American came in after winning 3 AMA titles, walked on to SBK, won the title and then effectively ran away from a highly experienced, former factory MotoGP rider and 2 time SBK champ (Edwards) on the same bike in his first season in the series?

      Uhm…….never.

      Spies is the real deal and he’s proven it. You cannot look at him some also-ran lucky-dog ‘the-stars-aligned-that-day’ American champion. He’s young, a champion on several levels and on the same bike as the World Champion and just finished within sight of him. Something pretty much the rest of the field hasn’t been able to do for a while.

      If he doesn’t out qualify Lorenzo and become a regular podium finisher, I’ll be astonished.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “Spies is the real deal and he’s proven it.”

        i completely agree. unfortunately both his recent accomplishments AND our personal opinions of said accomplishments are all TRUMPED by his passport. there’s a “glass ceiling” in MotoGP and his face is pressed firmly up against it. :(

        the glory days of king kenny, schwantz, spencer, rainey, kocinski, mammola, etc. where sponsorship dollars flowed like water down the mighty mississipi are looooonnng gone. [colonel troutman voice]”they’re over johnny… THEY’RE OVER!”[/colonel troutman voice].

        his only saving grace sits way out on the horizon and involves the successful construction of “Circuito de Estados Unidos”… and even then it’s 50/50 given the “fair-weather” nature of the american fan-base. again, i can’t help but point out (broken record) that the ability to change all this rests with US…

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “If he doesn’t out qualify Lorenzo and become a regular podium finisher, I’ll be astonished.”

        set your face for STUNNED…!

    • Voice of Reaosn says:

      Yes, he’s American, yes he’s accomplished, and yes he’s talented. It’s unfortunate that you can’t get past your your anti-american hate to respect him as a racer.

      • Voice of Denial says:

        as anybody knows, i rate him fully. you’re in denial that motogp is a business first… a form of entertainment second. the sooner you wake up to these realities, the better off you’ll be (in fact the better off we’ll ALL be). no worries, we’ll get you sorted. yup, we’ll get you sorted and turn you into an asset to motorcycling rather than a continued hinderance.

  2. Dave says:

    I believe it is almost always equipment factors. These riders are contracted on their ability and Ben has had no trouble finding work. He did dominate WSB on a bike that has not had similar success under other riders (like Casey Stoner/Ducati). Consistent results only come when the rider and team have a good handle on the equipment.

  3. Martin says:

    I think the key for Ben is to get a good start, like this last race. He’s fast enough to ride at the front, but most of this year he’s had trouble getting up there. I’m hoping he learns how to be a little more aggressive off the line and into that first turn. Go Ben!

  4. Vrooom says:

    Yes

  5. Glen says:

    I am very proud of Ben. He’s a hero in my book.

  6. brinskee says:

    I was actually hoping to see this happen sooner, but I’m glad Ben shook off the poor performances of the beginning of the season to grab a podium. The next few races will indeed be very interesting to watch.

  7. Bill says:

    I always wondered how some riders (Hayden comes to mind) can be brilliant one race and rubbish the next. Can it really be bike set up or tire compound choice, or something else?

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Can it really be bike set up or tire compound choice”

      yes, these bikes don’t cost millions of euro because they’re not tuned to a razor’s edge. much like how an F1 car can go from winning to losing over having a cracked diffuser…? or a few gallons of gas too much on board…? it’s the same with a motogp bike. everything’s adjustable, measured, controlled, and monitored. the down side of that is it’s easy to screw up. a single setting out of place can cost you seconds (or gain you seconds). they are THAT sensitive. it’s the whole point of tuning.