British MotoGP: Ben Spies mystified by rear tyre issue

By Matthew Birt -

MotoGP

 18 June 2012 12:14

Ben Spies is still seeking his first MotoGP podium of the season after a sudden and early drop in rear grip ended his victory challenge at Silverstone yesterday.

The American led for the opening four laps but dropped back to sixth with a lack of rear grip from his soft Bridgestone rear tyre selection.

Andrea Dovizioso’s crash out of the top three on lap 10 put Spies back into fifth but he was unable to maintain his pace and challenge Repsol Honda duo Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa for his first rostrum since the final race of the 800cc era in Valencia last November.

Fifth was still his best result of a difficult season but the 2009 World Superbike champion told MCN: “It feels a bit of a bittersweet race.

"At the beginning the bike felt great. I was feeling good and the pace was good. But after four or five laps we had a big drop with the rear tyre and frankly I don’t know what happened. We didn’t experience it in practice, qualifying or anything.

"And after that it was just damage control basically. Our lap times dropped over a second a lap and it was very strange. After the race we saw the left the side was blistered pretty bad. But we don’t have an explanation yet.

"What is more important is that we showed the bike was obviously working good and the speed was there at the beginning and usually our strongest point is at the end of the race. But all I could do was just try and keep my place and get a decent position.

"We can take a lot of positives from the race, but obviously it’s a bit frustrating when we had a bike working that well and I wasn’t able to capitalise on it.”

Spies denied that opting for the harder compound tyre would have been the better selection and he added: “We were thinking about it but also with the weather and the temperature and everything, the soft tyre seemed to be the better option.

"It wasn’t a case of the tyre being too soft. We don’t have a reason right now of why it happened or why it looked the way it did. But I don’t think it was because we needed to be on the hard tyre.

"Obviously the people in front of us were on the soft tyre and after four or five laps when I was getting passed I couldn’t even stay close to the guys. It wasn’t even a race then. I was just trying to keep a decent rhythm for the rest of the race.

"I knew Casey was right behind but I just kept just trying to plug away. And then we just had a huge drop and there was nothing we could do about it. I tried to stay as close as I could in case something happened but there was no way I could get back up there.”

For 11 pages of reaction and news from the British Grand Prix, see the June 20 issue of Motor Cycle News.