MUGELLO, ITALY, JUNE 30 – Even after leading every lap, taking the checkered flag, ascending the podium, and spraying the champagne, winning his first Grand Prix hadn’t sunk in for Ben Spies when he attended the post-race press conference. But the next few days brought such a flood of congratulatory texts, e-mails, and phone calls, that there was no question about what he’d done in becoming the 11th American to win a premier class race.
“It definitely has,” he answered when asked if it had sunk in at the pre-race press conference for this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, but with some equivocation. “Going back to Como for a couple of days and with all the fans and community have been very positive, and it hasn’t completely sunk in yet, but I’m starting to understand what’s happened and it is a great feeling. I’m still thinking about it today and using the confidence and the morale coming into this weekend, but tomorrow is Mugello and we have to forget about last weekend and give 100 percent and not think about what just happened. It is a great feeling and a lifelong dream, but this is a new weekend and we got to use Assen for confidence.”Mugello is the third fastest track on the MotoGP calendar after Phillip Island and Assen, but a recent repave may move it up the order. The track that was notoriously bumpy is now billiards table smooth, according to the Ducati Marlboro team, which has tested here.
“It’s a great track and it is going to be another hard weekend with the competition being the way it is and Dani [Pedrosa] being back now,” Spies said. “He’s another strong rider who could be back at the front. Everybody knows with Valentino’s [Rossi] track record here it is great and the Ducati home track we can expect some surprises or something coming out from there.”As for Spies’ season so far, he admits “it was a rough start, for sure. I made some mistakes early.” At the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez he “made a crucial mistake that we should have been on the podium in the end, but again that was something I did wrong and we’ve bounced back. Catalunya was good and Silverstone I had another mistake there. It’s a little bit up and down, but you’ve got to keep rebounding and coming back strong and Assen was that for us. And the team did a fantastic job giving me the bike I needed and I didn’t make too mistakes.””It’s halfway, it’s almost halfway into the year and we just keep plugging along and it’s a long season, but we just try to stay consistent from here.”
For complete coverage of Spies’ maiden win, see this week’s digital Cycle News… http://cyclenews.coverleaf.com/cyclenews/20110628#pg1