Catalunya MotoGP: Fifth place for fast learner Ben Spies
American Ben Spies made a mockery of his inexperience of the technical Catalunya circuit this afternoon to clock the fifth quickest time on his first ever appearance at the Spanish venue.
Spies produced a brilliant finish to the opening practice session with a lap of 1.43.854 moving him from 15th to fifth.
With temperatures rocketing to a sweltering 37 degrees, the 25-year-old ended just over half-a-second away from Jorge Lorenzo in first place.
The Texan, who claimed a brilliant maiden podium at Silverstone last month, said: “I was a bit lost in the beginning but I felt I was slowly getting to grips with it and I’m really surprised I ended up so high up in fifth.
"I went out on one bike and just worked on learning the track and when I switched to the other bike I found the turning was a lot better. I fixed the twitchy feel I was having on the front and that was a positive.
"Then I put the hard front tyre on and it was a hundred times better for me and it ended up being a really good session.
"We changed the geometry in the front-end too and got the bike turning even better. I didn’t have to hold the front brake to help the bike turn but now I can let off the brake and get it turned.”
With track temperatures nudging over 50 degrees and being similar to the hot and humid conditions normally experienced at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia, Spies said rear tyre management would be vital this weekend.
He added: “We know the bike's going to be spinning. The key is going to be who can set the bike up for the end of the race when there’s not much grip.
"I’m looking decent on speed right now but now we’ve got to manage it and make sure I’m fast for the end of the race. The hard tyre worked well.
"Unfortunately, but the time I was actually able to get going and know where I was going, the hard was done and had over race distance. I'll definitely sleep better tonight knowing we don't have so much work to do tomorrow.
"The bike's working relatively well. I'm definitely happy. It's not perfect, but for one hour with the track, finding as much time as we did with the set-up, I'm really, really happy with it.”