US MotoGP: Mistake costs Ben Spies podium chance

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A mistake in the braking zone for the last corner with seven laps remaining cost Ben Spies his chance of a podium finish in Laguna Seca yesterday.

The 26-year-old had made a brilliant start from the second row to claim third by the first corner before he quickly surrendered three places in a tentative first few laps.

But once he found his confidence in the soft compound Bridgestone rear tyre he opted to run, Spies was able to quickly close down on compatriot Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi in the battle for fourth.

Dani Pedrosa’s crash out of the lead on lap 12 turned the three-way tussle into a battle for the podium as Rossi superbly hauled the American duo into podium contention.

Spies, who was looking to add to his fantastic maiden premier class rostrum in Silverstone last month, quickly closed a gap of over 0.5s to overtake Hayden’s factory Ducati GP10 on lap 21.

The reigning World Superbike champion then shadowed Rossi’s factory Yamaha YZR-M1 as the Italian rode himself into a contention for a fairytale podium.

Rossi hauled Spies to the back of Andrea Dovizioso’s Repsol Honda, but just when the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider was prepared to go on the offensive, he made a mistake on the approach to the final corner on lap 25.

Not only did he lose close to three seconds but his mistake on the brakes gifted fifth place back to 2005 and ’06 Laguna Seca winner Hayden.

Spies quickly regained his composure but was powerless to reclaim fifth from Hayden and he said: “I got a good start but for the next two or three laps I just couldn’t get my race speed fast enough and they gapped me a little bit.

"Nicky and Valentino rode by me like I was a 15th place guy. But from lap 10 to 25 I was definitely quicker than them. Not mind blowing quicker but I was catching them so I have to figure that early stage out and try and get it done.

"Nicky was strong in some places and I was strong in others but I knew I was getting held up a little bit. Once I got by Nicky I got right up on the back of Valentino but I was struggling in some points with him.

"I was actually going to attack him on the next lap when I had a problem entering the final corner on lap 25.

"I ran wide and lost out and although it wasn’t the podium I wanted in front of my home crowd, I’m happy because I had the speed to come through the field and I had the speed to be on the podium.

"I couldn’t quite finish the job and that was down to me. But I’d rather leave here knowing I could have been on the podium rather than leave here in eighth place and not on the pace.

"I can’t ask for a lot more because I’m in the top six again, leading non-factory rider in the race again and putting up a strong fight, so I’m not too upset.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt