Indy MotoGP: Ben Spies sets first practice pace

By Matthew Birt -

MotoGP

 26 August 2011 16:11

Ben Spies made good use of a host of upgrades on his factory Yamaha YZR-M1 machine to top the timesheets at the end of a sun-drenched opening MotoGP practice session at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Using a more powerful in-line four-cylinder motor, new fairing and upgraded electronics package, Spies made the perfect start to his home race with a lap of 1.43.260 securing him top spot.

The Texan, who claimed his solitary MotoGP pole position in Indianapolis a year ago, edged out current world championship leader Casey Stoner by 0.292s.

With the infield section of the track resurfaced after heavy criticism in recent years for being too bumpy and patchy, clearly grip levels on the new tarmac were way down with Spies 3.1s away from his pole position pace in 2010.

Stoner was second with a best time of 1.43.552, the Australian finishing just 0.022s clear of American Colin Edwards, who was one of only two non-factory riders inside the top 10.

Marco Simoncelli led the session for long periods but had to settle for fourth place on the timesheets. The Italian, who has yet to sign a new deal with the San Carlo Gresini Honda squad, clocked a best time of 1.43.582.

Home favourite Nicky Hayden was an encouraging fifth on the Ducati GP11.1, though he was still 0.976s back from the best pace set by Spies.

The Kentucky rider though did get a confidence boost by finishing 0.126s faster than Italian team-mate Valentino Rossi, who was sixth fastest.

Reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo was a distant ninth, the Spaniard logging a best lap of 1.45.065 to finish 1.805s adrift of team-mate Spies.

And 2010 Indianapolis winner Dani Pedrosa was only 10th quickest. The Repsol Honda rider set a best lap of 1.45.192 to finish 1.932s off the pace. His speed highlighted how low grip levels were on the repaved infield section with Pedrosa getting nowhere near his best lap in last year’s race of 1.40.896.

British rider Cal Crutchlow finished 12th quickest with a 1.45.368 leaving the 25-year-old less than 0.2s behind Pedrosa.