Of Spies' contention that the GSV-R isn't much faster than his Superbike, Shenton agrees. "We're making more than 220 horsepower. An American Superbike's probably 210-plus, 215. I think horsepower-wise you're probably not talking a lot of difference, but in torque delivery there's probably a lot of difference."
Spies finished the day 17th fastest, putting Alice Team's Sylvain Guintoli behind him.
Due to the lack of dry practice...
Due to the lack of dry practice time, it wasn't until halfway through the race that Spies finally became somewhat comfortable pushing the GSV-R800's Bridgestone tires.
Spies (11) luckily avoided...
Spies (11) luckily avoided getting caught up in James Toseland's high-side crash in the first corner of the British GP. Fellow American John Hopkins (21, partially obscured) wasn't so lucky and almost had to take to the grass to evade the falling British rider.
Spies was surprised at how...
Spies was surprised at how well known he was in England. The HJC helmet he would wear in the race was auctioned off at the Riders for Health event for $5600.
"I'm feeling about 70 percent on the bike now, but I don't know how much faster we're going to go," Spies admits. "But I'm just starting to push it, and I'm not even spinning the thing anywhere. It's not even moving. There's a lot of time to go. It's not near what I'm used to hanging it out, but I just don't want to really do anything too stupid at this stage."
What Spies thought he needed was less electronics. "I told them I could turn some stuff down. I need some more feel, you know."
When he awoke in his paddock motor home on Saturday morning, it was raining. Not hard, but hard enough to know that today would be an adventure. The Donington Park surface is legendary for its unpredictability. Situated in the flight path of the East Midlands Airport, the track has been dogged with the false belief that it suffers from being misted with fuel. So prevalent is the belief that the track CEO said it was nonsense in a statement issued on the GP weekend.
In the morning practice session Spies finished 10th, tucked between Rossi and Vermeulen. The surface everyone said was so lethal was "10 times better than Road America," where he won a wet race last year by 11 seconds. "I rode at Road America a couple of weeks ago and that place is an ice rink. It was good, and I'll just try to pick up the pace a little more this afternoon and see if we can have a decent qualifying and try to qualify in the top 12 or somewhere in there." Spies saw the rain as both an opportunity and an equalizer. "I was thinking I get to learn another bike in the rain and tires in the rain, too," he says. "I think from my lack of track knowledge, because you can't ride the bike 100 percent, I figured it would be a little more even playing ground."
Although Spies had heard horror...
Although Spies had heard horror stories regarding how treacherous Donington's pavement became when wet, he considered the overall grip far superior to any track he'd raced on in the USA.
Early in the race Spies dices...
Early in the race Spies dices it up with San Carlo Honda Gresini's Alex De Angelis (15), LCR Honda's Randy DePuniet (14) and Marlboro Ducati's Marco Melandri (33).
Although Rizla Suzuki team...
Although Rizla Suzuki team manager Paul Denning (left) and the rest of the Rizla Suzuki MotoGP crew were very happy with Spies' performance, the Texan still wished he could've done better.
In the lone afternoon qualifying session he was eighth, just in front of Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa. He did the time on a race tire. Most impressive was that he'd made it through his first two days without making a single mistake, with no off-track excursions or crashes. Repsol Honda's Nicky Hayden feels vindicated.
"After yesterday I was a little bit worried that maybe I opened my mouth too much when I sat here and told everybody how he was going to surprise people, this and that, but today he came through," Hayden says.
Bridgestone's race manager Hiroshi Yamada was equally impressed, though he and Spies were reluctant to say too much because of Spies' ties to Dunlop in the U.S., "but I was very impressed with his result today. In wet conditions, I believe he doesn't have so much experience in the USA." He adds, "Especially this track is very difficult to ride in the wet conditions. Many riders crash in the wet conditions. And in this situation I think he was very, very good." Wet or dry, Spies would be entering his first grand prix with one day's experience in either condition. His preference was wet.
"I'm starting to get comfortable now. Now that the pace got slowed down it was easy to really learn the track and get comfortable, and hopefully that'll transfer to the dry. But like I said, it's going to be tough. In the dry, that's where really knowing the track helps out a lot more. That's where we're lacking. But at least we showed we're a little more even now. We were up there and we're in a good position. So hopefully we can continue that and do pretty good tomorrow."