Yamaha's newly-crowned World Superbike champion (and MotoGP rookie) Ben Spies qualified ninth for the Valencia race.jpg
Ben Spies is methodically working his way into understanding the Yamaha M1 MotoGP machine as he gains more time on the bike. The Texan qualified ninth for the Valencia MotoGP.
Once again, Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Colin Edwards showed that he was the best non-factory rider with a solid fifth-place qualifying position for tomorrow's MotoGP race in Valencia, Spain.
It was once again more of the usual suspects in final qualifying for tomorrow’s MotoGP race in Valencia, Spain, with Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner basically dominating the one-hour session by vaulting to the top of the leaderboard in his first stint and never relinquishing that position for the duration. Homeboy Dani Pedrosa gradually improved his pace on the Repsol Honda in the last half of the session to oust Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo from second spot, while recently-crowned MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi was forced off the front row by Pedrosa’s late charge (Rossi's fourth place was still good enough to earn him the BMW M3 prize for the BMW M Award Top Qualifier of 2009). Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Colin Edwards once again proved his “best of the rest” speed by qualifying just behind Rossi, with fellow American Nicky Hayden finding some more improvement to qualify right behind Edwards. LCR Honda’s Randy De Puniet was running well and sitting in fourth place, but a crash late in the session forced him to sit and watch as he dropped down the leaderboard to seventh spot. But the one rider who everyone was obviously watching was newly-crowned World Superbike Champion (and now MotoGP rookie) Ben Spies, and the Texan certainly didn’t damage his increasingly superlative reputation (as well as the increasingly unreasonable expectations of many) by qualifying in a solid ninth spot after only three hours’ time on the Yamaha M1.
“It’s better than I expected this early on, with just three hours on the bike, but the package is great,” said Spies. “The bike is great, the tires are great, it’s just me now. I am slowly building up my faith in everything. I’m still not where I feel comfortable and I’m definitely not at home yet. It's not going to happen overnight, but I’m happy to not be so far off the other guys on the Yamaha. We’re competitive, so we have to try and get a good start in the race tomorrow, get in position to follow a few people and learn what we can. In the end I need to try and get a good start, which I definitely haven’t mastered yet, I’ve only had the chance to practice a couple so I think that could be where the downfall of the race will be for me. But it’s a case of so far, so good. Every time we get on the bike we have to look at the lap times and make sure the gap to the front guys gets smaller and smaller. That’s what this weekend is for.” He added, “I know who I’m riding against and they’re the world’s best riders, who have been on these bikes for a long time. So I can understand not being higher up the grid—the riders around me are all fast guys! We just need to keep doing more laps on the bike. I can feel what the bike wants to do but I’m just not ready to take it there yet. Every time we get on it we go faster and that works for me. I’m still not close to what the tires can do either, I just need laps, laps and more laps!””
“I seem to be pretty much stuck with that fifth place…I know I run number five but it doesn't mean I have to qualify in that place every race!” Edwards laughed. “But as I've said before, I've got to be pleased to be finishing next best behind those four guys, or should I say ‘aliens’…they are riding out of this world and to be right behind them means I'm doing the best job I can and that's about as good as I can hope for at the moment. I'm not sure if I've got the pace of the four in front of me on race tyres but I wanted to give myself a shot at fifth in the championship and I've done that.” The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider tweaked his neck while getting ready for qualifying. “I'm sure my neck won't be a problem tomorrow. I first hurt it when I crashed in Germany last year and every few months I do something to aggravate it. This time I was in the shower reaching for the shampoo and the way I turned my head it just seized up. It won't stop me from trying to end a brilliant season on a high and giving my guys at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 something to cheer about.”
1. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati 1:32.256
2. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Honda 1:32.519
3. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Yamaha 1:32.537
4. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha 1:32.922
5. Colin Edwards (USA) Yamaha 1:33.085
6. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati 1:33.154
7. Randy De Puniet (FRA) Honda 1:33.391
8. Toni Elias (SPA) Honda 1:33.475
9. Ben Spies (USA) Yamaha 1:33.539
10. Andrea Dovisioso (ITA) Honda 1:33.678