Ben Spies was cruelly denied a first podium of 2012 in yesterday’s Dutch TT at Assen after being forced to slow dramatically by a serious rear tyre issue in the final stages of the 26-lap clash.
Spies appeared to have third place secured having edged away from Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Andrea Dovizioso before his rear tyre started to shed chunks of rubber in the closing stages.
The Texan, who claimed his only MotoGP victory in Assen a year ago, held off Dovizioso until the last lap but with his rear tyre losing grip he had to back off and settle for fourth.
It was his best result of a difficult season but the factory Yamaha rider told MCN: “I got a decent start and felt good on the bike, maybe even a bit better pace than the others at the beginning and then I settled into a really good rhythm after two or three laps. Then I got a really bad vibration from the rear and a chunk came off the tyre. Then with three laps to go a second chunk came out of it and at the end there were two huge holes in the tyre. I don't think me or the team have done anything wrong and we weren't the only ones who had the issue. It was dangerous."
Valentino Rossi also had a major rear tyre issue and the Italian’s was so bad he was forced to pull into the pits for a new rear tyre just after the halfway stage.
It is the second race in a row that Spies has suffered with a major rear tyre wear issue but he said yesterday’s problem was far worse than what he experienced at Silverstone last month.
He added: “At Silverstone the tyre didn't come apart but we had a tyre problem. At Silverstone it was blistered and the shape was deformed but here the tyre came apart. Throughout my career and even in World Superbikes my strongest point has been that I am easy on the tyres. Now I don't know what has happened in the last few races. We did a race run on Friday in practice and everything was fine and did plenty of laps on the tyres at Silverstone but at both races we have had huge disasters. You don't knoe when it is going to happen and what it will do. It has been very inconsistent. It is frustrating because the last two weekends I think I have been robbed, that's all there is to it. It has been frustrating because you know you have done everything right and you can't control it. It is like someone owes me a couple of podium pay cheques. It sucks to say that but that's the truth. I am not going to hold my hands up and say it was my fault here or at Silverstone because it wasn't. At the beginning of the season maybe we made a couple of mistakes but the last couple we haven't done anything wrong.”
Bridgestone’s Shinichi Yamashita, General Manager of the Motorsport Tyre Development Department, promised a thorough investigation to find out why Spies and Rossi had such major issues.
For more from Spies and Rossi and six pages of coverage from the Assen MotoGP, see the July 4 issue of Motor Cycle News.