VALENCIA, SPAIN, NOV 6 – The Texas tandem of Ben Spies and Colin Edwards will start their final race as teammates from the sixth and seventh spots, respectively, on the grid for Sunday’s season-ending Valencia Grand Prix in Spain.
Spies’ attendance had been in doubt ever since he re-aggravated an ankle injury first suffered at Le Mans and re-injured at Silverstone, when he fell on the sighting lap of last Sunday’s Portuguese Grand Prix. But late in the week Spies confirmed his attendance, tender ankle and all, and he was in fine form on the track.
Spies finished with a best lap of 1:32.566 mins. for the 2.49-mile road course set in a man-made amphitheater that has wonderful sight lines for spectators. The time came in the middle of his final run and was .144 secs. off fifth fastest Nicky Hayden, who he’s tied with in the championship going into Sunday’s final race.
“I’m super happy because I’d like the bike to be working better but to be close to the fight for the podium is pretty good,” Spies said. “This track doesn’t have a lot of rear grip and I’ve had some stability problems. I need be more stable for the race and I think we can achieve that. Yamaha and my Tech 3 guys will get together tonight and come up with some ideas and I know they’ll give me a good bike tomorrow.
“The ankle isn’t fantastic but I don’t think it’s losing me time. I’m not 100%, but I can’t say I’m losing half-a-second because of it. I can’t move around on the bike as much as I’d like, but the race is only 45 minutes and I’ll get through it. I definitely want to move up in the championship and claim that sixth spot but I’m going out to treat it like another race and try to beat Nicky. There’s a bit of pride at stake but I’d want to beat anybody for the top six, so it makes no difference that the fight is with Nicky.”
Said Edwards, “I’ve felt good all weekend with this new setting and I want to thank my guys at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 because as always they’ve done an awesome job. The changes we have made have really helped my confidence with the rear of the bike. I can turn much better, I don’t run wide and the new setting seems to give me better rear grip but is also good for tire life too. I was comfortable on the hard tire but I hadn’t used the soft tire since yesterday morning, so I didn’t really know the potential of it.
“On the first tire I was almost a second quicker, put the second tire in and it didn’t give the same confidence for some reason. On the last one I felt better and I’m happy with the lap time but it is so tight at the top that just a couple of tenths costs you a lot of places. Seventh is not where I want to be but everybody is going fast. I think anybody from third to ninth will be thinking they can get on the podium and I’m one of them. We’ve seen though on this track that the field can spread out pretty quick and if it does I hope to be at the sharp end.”