Spies Leaves Time on the Track

Henny Ray Abrams | July 19, 2008

MONTEREY, CA, JULY 19: The problem for Ben Spies was too much grip. In his second race on the Rizla Suzuki, Spies said the rear Bridgestone had so much grip that he left a few tenths on the track. What it translated to was 13th on the grid for Sunday’s Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix, rather than fifth, where Tech 3 Yamaha’s James Toseland was only .279 seconds ahead. “We got down to an OK lap time, but, honestly, I’m not used to having that much grip,” Spies said after his second MotoGP qualifying session, held on a cool, sunny afternoon at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “I told the team there’s another three or four-tenths out there in the bike for sure and me just not knowing the limits of those things. And those three-tenths, three-tenths of a second would’ve put us in fifth place. “Like again, the result’s not right there, but I mean we’re right on the brink of being in the top five of every session. I think we’re good. Race set-up, I think we’re going to be a lot better after learning some stuff with the front end of the bike. And I’m happy with it. “Like I said, obviously I hate being back as far as we are. I know I can run with these guys. Now I’m on a track I know and I’m comfortable on and still I’m finding some stuff with the bike and not quite comfortable on the bike. But for what I know, more on the track, they definitely have a lot more bike time than I do. Then the qualifying, we’re three-tenths out of being in the top. So I’d say now I can run with these guys. Winning and all that stuff, that’s different. Just running in a good position, I know we can do it. We just need more time, we need to keep learning. That’s all there is to it. It takes time.” When Spies first raced the Rizla Suzuki, in the British Grand Prix at Donington Park, it was well into the race before he felt the rear tire moving under him. The Rizla Suzuki feels planted at Laguna Seca, Spies said, because of an abundance of grip. “If we get some stuff working a little bit better with the bike, I’ll be able to push a little harder and maybe get the thing a little out of shape. But right now I’m just not quite comfortable with a few areas of the track and trying to get that.”

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.