US MotoGP: Launch control issue proves costly for Ben Spies

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Ben Spies fought back superbly from a nightmare first lap to score fourth place in front of his home crowd at the Laguna Seca circuit in California.

Spies dropped back from fourth on the grid to seventh after his Yamaha YZR-M1 made a sluggish start off the line.

Spies later revealed his bike had cut too much power off the line with an incorrect launch control setting.

Despite the early setback, he brilliantly hunted down Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso to take fourth on lap 30 of 32, which moved him to within ten points of Valentino Rossi in the points standings.

The 2009 World Superbike champion said: “I went with the soft tyre and it wasn’t a bad choice and it worked pretty good. Dovi was on the hard tyre and we came back to him, so it wasn’t a bad choice by any means. I think it was the best choice for us but we didn’t get to use full advantage of it at the beginning. I had good pace but I had a little problem with the start. I got behind Valentino and it took me too long to get by him. Once we did I was in that no mans land and I just kept my head own and raced the clock.

“When I saw the gap to Dovi was coming down tenth by tenth I figured I could catch him but I didn’t know if I had enough time. Besides the start and the first couple of laps it was a great race for us and we put in a good charge. We got around Dovi for championship points. I am upset with the beginning of the race but that’s how it goes. The feeling that I had with the bike I had in the first few laps was great. I wish we would have got off the line a bit better but we didn’t but I did the best I could after I got by Rossi. I just put my head down and it came good but that’s the way it goes. I’m still happy with the race.”

As well as the issue off the line, Spies was also boxed in at the first corner and he added: “A couple of people came up the inside and I was trying to make up ground that I’d lost around the outside. It was just one of those things, you get boxed up and you got someone in front of you and you can’t go anywhere. You got people going left and right trying to pass you and once you get passed by third and fourth in the first couple of corners it gets messy and we were in that. But we did the best we could and I think we did a good job coming through in the end.”

For full coverage of the Laguna Seca race, see Wednesday’s issue of MCN.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt