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Ben Spies celebrates first MotoGP podium
21 June 2010
Ben Spies will always remember the 2010 British MotoGP, the first to take place at Silverstone since 1986, after claiming his first ever grand prix podium on the very final lap of Sunday's race.
Making only his ninth MotoGP appearance, and sixth for Yamaha, Spies got stronger as the race went on and caught the three-way battle for second - between Andrea Dovizioso, Randy de Puniet and Nicky Hayden - with seven laps to go.
“I didn't expect to get my first podium so quickly, especially after yesterday which wasn't the best for me,” said Spies, who qualified seventh. “I got a decent start but once I got by Dani and Simoncelli I just tried to stay on the back of the group battling for the podium.”
By then the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider was himself coming under pressure from 2007 world champion Casey Stoner, but Spies wasn't flustered and waited until lap 17 of 20 before taking fourth from de Puniet.
“Once I realised I could stay in contention I just tried to save the rear tyre as much as I could and it all worked out,” he explained.
Already holding his best ever MotoGP position, Spies then had only fellow American Hayden separating him from a grand prix rostrum.
Ignoring the discomfort of a small fracture in his left ankle that he aggravated in a Saturday crash, the 25-year-old produced a daring overtake on Hayden at the fast Abbey Corner on the final lap.
“That last lap was difficult to pass Nicky but I got a really good drive onto the back straight and tried to pass him at Stowe Corner but he came back by. On the next straight I managed to get by him and then had to ride quite defensively on the last part of the lap,” said Spies.
“I was on the edge but I had to go for the podium and it worked out. It will be hard to duplicate this but right now I'll let it sink in and make the most of it. But on this day I can say I was the third best rider in the world and it is a good feeling,” concluded Spies, who beat his previous MotoGP bets by two places.
Reigning World Superbike champion Spies made three MotoGP starts for Suzuki in 2008, then had a wild-card ride for Yamaha at Valencia 2009, before starting his first full season in 2010.
The podium was Tech 3's first since the 2009 British Grand Prix, at Donington Park, when Colin Edwards finished second, and the first of the 2010 season by a satellite rider.
“We knew Ben really liked this circuit and we thought he could do a good race,” said team manager Herve Poncharal. “But he rode an incredible race because he didn't get a fantastic start but he was very aggressive in the first two laps and got himself into contention. He never let that group in front of him go away and we know his strength is on worn tyres, so we expected him to hang in until the end.
“He was quickest on track at one stage but I was worried a little bit because Casey was catching quite quickly. But he kept his cool and made some good passes and the best was on the last lap to beat Nicky. It his first podium in MotoGP and certainly not his last because he is such a bright talent for the future.”
Edwards finished ninth at the new British Grand Prix venue.
“I don't want to be finishing in ninth at all but honestly I'm reasonably happy with the way I rode and it was a lot better than I expected after what has been a tough weekend,” he said.
“The bike isn't agile enough and having to muscle it around gave me a small arm pump problem, but not as bad as Mugello. If I could get the bike to go where I want it to go I could save lots of time, but we've got some ideas for the future. It was a bit of a lonely race but I rode as hard as I could for as long as I could.
“I want to congratulate Ben though because he did an awesome job and I've got nothing but admiration for him. He showed today what a great rider he is and it is great for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team to be back on the podium.”
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