Assen MotoGP: Fantastic fourth for Ben Spies

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Ben Spies’ brilliant first full MotoGP campaign continued in Assen after the Texan rode to a superb fourth place in front of nearly 100,000 fans.

Starting from his career best grid position in fourth, Spies made a lightning start to the 26-lap race and slotted into second behind Fiat Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo on the opening lap.

Spies though was unable to maintain his early momentum as he struggled to find maximum grip from his soft Bridgestone rear tyre choice.

He lost second to Dani Pedrosa on lap three and then third to Australian Casey Stoner a lap later and he was powerless to keep himself in the hunt for a second successive podium after his Silverstone heroics.

Spies was then dropped to fifth by Andrea Dovizioso but he produced a brilliantly executed overtake on the Italian at the final chicane on lap 16 and was able to immediately pull out a comfortable gap over the Repsol Honda rider.

But Dovizioso suddenly started to close back in, largely inspired by Randy de Puniet's late attack.

But Spies responded with a masterful performance in the final four laps, the 25-year-old holding his nerve with some brilliantly aggressive riding to prevent de Puniet and Dovizioso from getting close to denying him fourth place.

The reigning World Superbike champion said: “I got a good start and was happy with that. But then Dani came through from behind and got up the inside of Casey and I saw Casey second guess it and I was on the outside and I thought I'm going to go through here and then I found myself in second place. I ran the soft rear tyre because it made the front load better for turning and the track temperature was hotter than all weekend. But it didn't work as well I'd hoped in the first ten laps and then when Dani and Casey came by I knew I was holding them up. But I was happy to follow Jorge for a couple of laps and try and get in the rhythm and hold a good position, which shows what a good qualifying can do for you and how important that is. I tried as hard as I could and 12 laps in Andrea passed me. But then his tyres dropped down to where I was with mine and I reeled him back in. The podium battle had gone away and then over the last three laps I heard Andrea and Randy putting the pressure on. I put my head down hard and managed to open a gap. I was sliding a lot but I managed to stretch away and I could cruise the last lap. I wanted at least fourth place today and I'm happy but I didn't have the pace for the podium like in Silverstone. I'm happy with the result and we go to Catalunya next week not knowing the track and I think we will be a little bit on the back foot again. But I'll do the same as the past two weeks and push as hard as I can."

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt