Ben Spies delivered the final piece of evidence to support his case for a 2009 MotoGP ride by finishing a career best sixth, on his third and final appearance for Rizla Suzuki at Sunday's weather-shortened Indianapolis Grand Prix.

Indianapolis marked the nearest Spies will get to a level playing field against the MotoGP regulars, the triple AMA Superbike champion's lack of prototype experience being partially balanced by his presence at July's two day Indy tyre test, something the regular riders were denied.

Spies made the most of the opportunity to qualify an excellent fifth in the dry, the best grid position by a wild-card since Troy Bayliss claimed second on the grid at Valencia 2006, but slipped back to seventh on the opening lap of Sunday's wet race.

The Texan overtook Repsol Honda's double 2008 race winner Dani Pedrosa on lap four and began threatening reigning world champion Casey Stoner, who was in turn putting pressure on fourth placed Andrea Dovizioso.

However, as the rain intensified, Spies began suffering vision problems but was still holding a close sixth - less than 1.5secs behind fourth placed Stoner - when the red flags were waved seven laps earlier than planned.

"I rode as hard as I could," Spies said. "We qualified fifth and finished sixth so it was a good weekend. I wish we could have been in the top five, but I can't be too upset because we did what we wanted to do."

Unconfirmed rumours later suggested that Ben's visor might not have been treated with rain repellent, causing his vision problems in the driving rain.

"Suzuki gave me fourth-place bike for sure," said Spies. "The first ten laps were good. The last ten laps, I couldn't see anything. I caught up to Dovizioso, and I tried to stay right on him so he could tow me around. I just followed everything he did. The race was over.

"I knew if I lost touch with him the next group behind would catch me because I literally could not see the apex of the turns or anything. Considering all that, I'm happy with my finish. It's a great result."

Making the result all the more impressive was the relative performance of the two regular GSV-R riders, Chris Vermeulen and Loris Capirossi. Vermeulen finished ninth on Sunday with Capirossi 16th. Both have been retained for 2009, forcing Spies to search elsewhere for a grand prix ride.

"You always want to beat your team-mates, so that was good," Spies smiled.

Spies previously finished 14th in his MotoGP debut at June's British Grand Prix and scored an eighth the following month at Laguna Seca.

The #11 feels his latest performance should be enough to earn him a seat in MotoGP next season and, despite rumours that he will remain in the AMA, sources close to Spies told that "there's a good chance he'll be in MotoGP".

"Like I've said before, I think I can do this - I can run with these guys," Spies insisted. "We went to a track where, at the end of the day, they were as comfortable on it as I was and we were right there on the brink of finishing in the top five. I think we can do it and I'm looking forward to the future."

Spies' best chance seems to be a JiR Honda ride in place of Dovizioso - who looks certain to join Repsol Honda - but Ben looks to be facing competition for the seat from 250cc rider Yuki Takahashi, depending on whether or not Team Scot also runs an RC212V.

A final answer could come at the Japanese Grand Prix on September 28.


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