LOSAIL, QATAR, APRIL 10: MotoGP rookie Ben Spies was hoping for more in his first qualifying session on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine, but tire issues dropped him to 11th fastest in advance of Sunday’s season-opening Qatar Grand Prix.Spies had been the revelation of off-season testing, including coming fourth at the final pre-season test here about two weeks ago. But he could never get any momentum going in qualifying and wasn’t able to make the most of the softer of the two rear Bridgestone tires, which was worth several tenths in lap time.So Spies, who won both World Superbike races here last year, will start the season in the middle of the third row, just behind fellow rookie Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP) and in front of Pramac Racing’s Mika Kallio. Teammate Colin Edwards is one row ahead.”Not a good session at all,” Spies said in his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 garage soon after qualifying. His best lap of 1:56.271 was 1.264 seconds off the benchmark set by Casey Stoner. “I’m not going to really go into detail what all happened, but it just was a session that it was one to forget. It was a real bad session. But the positives were we did our fastest time on our race tires that had laps on them. So I know the top four guys obviously were a little bit quicker on hard tires, but the majority of the people that were quicker than us were on soft tires for sure.”Spies wasn’t able to make the most of the softer of the Bridgestone rears. He didn’t use one at all on Friday, knowing that it wouldn’t last race distance and preferring to devote his time to race set-up. In Saturday’s late night qualifying session, “We never did a full lap on them,” he said. “We just had a little problem with the tires. Whether it was me or just a little inconsistent, we didn’t get it done. But I am happy with the lap time we put in for the race tires, because that’s what we’ve got to race on, that’s what we did our time on and happy about that.”Spies had a few moments while on fast laps, but he didn’t think it was anything major. Certainly nothing that would have caused a spill.”Just a couple little hiccups here and there,” he said. “Nothing that was major. No almost crashes or anything, but just stuff that messed up the fast lap and every lap that I was on a good lap was messed up. I never put in a clean lap. Did one in the end that was decent, but it wasn’t anything I thought was going to be great. I just tried to put the best time I could in to get up there. Definitely every lap, every qualifying type lap didn’t finish with a good time.”
Spies Struggles in Qualifying in Qatar
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.