Catalunya MotoGP: Ben Spies frustrated despite top six

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Ben Spies certainly wasn’t celebrating despite extending his recent impressive run in MotoGP with a hard fought top six in Catalunya.

The 25-year-old was cursing a lack of rear grip in the opening half of the race that saw him plummet from fifth on the grid to tenth by lap eight.

He was only moved further up the rankings when Italian duo Marco Simoncelli and Andrea Dovizioso crashed out in successive laps shortly after the halfway stage.

He passed a fading Marco Melandri for seventh place on lap 18 as he suddenly found confidence with his rear Bridgestone tyre and only three laps remained when he lunged by veteran Italian Loris Capirossi to take sixth. 

But despite a rousing late effort he just failed to overhaul Alvaro Bautista’s factory Suzuki GSV-R.

The reigning World Superbike champion, who has now claimed three successive top six finishes, was less than satisfied with the outcome and he said: “I had an okay start but got shuffled around in the first couple of corners but I’m not really happy with today.

"We don’t have the grip that the guys have in the first ten laps. It doesn’t matter what I did, whoever was in front of me, if I stood the bike up in the same point or was on the exact same line, I didn’t have the grip in the first ten laps.

"When everybody had a big drop in their tyre and they were sliding and moving around they were in the same boat as me, I could go through the field. For the last ten laps I was probably the fourth quickest guy on track, but coming from where I was I had too much to do.

"Following Loris and Melandri, I couldn’t get off the corner with them and their bikes were faster on the straight. It made for a long race and I’m really frustrated. It’s not a real sixth place because a couple of people crashed out.”

Explaining more about the rear grip issue in the opening ten laps of the race where he struggled the most for speed, Spies added: “We’re not getting enough force in the tyre into the ground.

"We need to get the tyre into the ground harder and make the thing work harder to get more grip. We start out a level down on grip and when everything starts dropping down it is a lot more even but we’re handicapped for the first ten laps.

"I made a couple of small mistakes and definitely should have been fifth. I’d have caught Bautista in time to pass him but I took too long to get around Loris. I felt great in the last ten laps but I’m just really unhappy with the first ten.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt