Indy MotoGP: Ben Spies storms to career best second
It was mission accomplished for rookie sensation Ben Spies in Indianapolis yesterday after he claimed his career best MotoGP result on home soil.
The 26-year-old had vowed to better his brilliant debut podium when he finished third at Silverstone in June.
And he didn’t disappoint a crowd of 62,700 home fans after starting from pole position for the first time in his career.
The reigning World Superbike champion made a lightning start and sped away from the field on board the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 machine.
But he was unable to prevent Dani Pedrosa from seizing the lead on lap seven.
And despite dogged resistance in baking hot conditions, Spies had no answer to the Spaniard’s decisive breakaway.
Spies at least could ride to a relatively comfortable second spot with his pace too hot for world championship favourite Jorge Lorenzo.
Spies easily finished top Yamaha rider for the first time in his career and he said: “I can’t complain with second. We came here and did better than I thought we were going to do.
"We got the pole position for the first time and got out and had a good start in the race and led some laps. I didn't set the world on fire, but we had a good pace. If just wasn't fast enough when Dani came by.
"His bike was working well and he had good grip. We had a good set-up too but it just wasn't fast enough. And I tried as hard as I could and didn't make too many mistakes.
"I saw that we had a gap to third and I just tried to manage it and ride as hard as I could. It was really tricky, and I saw a lot of crash marks out there and I knew some people were hitting the ground, and it was quite easy to make a mistake.
"But in the end we had to ride 100 per cent the whole time with only a three-second gap. I'm happy for the fans that are here to get a second in the American Grand Prix for the first season.
"We tried as hard as we could. We didn't win but to get on the podium, I'm happy with that.”
Spies had opted to run the softer compound Bridgestone rear tyre despite track temperatures rocketing to 56 degrees.
Pedrosa meanwhile was running the harder option on his factory Honda RC212V and Spies said: “We kind of went for glory. I couldn't be quick enough on the hard tyre and couldn't quite do some of the things I wanted to do with the bike to make the lap time.
"The soft tyre we knew was going to go down at the end but we were hoping to be in a position where we could manage that at the end. Fortunately we got a good start.
"I was able to go early on and go good and then just manage it at the end of the race and it proved to be a good choice. I was on the fence about it, I believed in a couple other people and we went with it. So it worked out today.”
Spies jumped ahead of compatriot Nicky Hayden in the overall standings to sixth place after the factory Ducati rider could only finish sixth.
Spies is now only 16-points behind Andrea Dovizioso in third position and he said: “To be doing what we're doing, I’m not looking at being the top American or anything like that. I didn't think it would be going this well.
"If you had told me we would have had one podium at the end of the first season, I would have been happy with that and took my money. But we’ve got two. I think the team and me and everybody is doing a good job.”
Spies said news of his move to join Yamaha’s factory squad in 2011 finally being made public on Friday had helped his state of mind.
He’s faced a barrage of questions for weeks with the possibility of replacing Ducati bound Valentino Rossi and he said: “To be in MotoGP at all is a huge thing and then to know there's only a couple people that can ride for a factory team and that you're one of them, that's big.
"And I think that kind of helped a lot how the weekend went. The confidence that was taken from that just transformed into Saturday's result and the race result.
"For it all to happen at my home Grand Prix, there's nothing that can top it unless we won. But we've got to keep our feet on the ground, and I think we're taking positive steps every weekend.”