Monster Yamaha Tech3’s American pairing of Ben Spies and Colin Edwards pulled in a huge crowd at their home Grand Prix at Laguna Seca this weekend.
Both riders were hoping for a high placing position in front of a expecting audience. It was Spies who gave the crowd the most to cheer about. After gaining three places from the second row of the grid, all looked promising.
However in the relentless pace that followed on the opening few laps, Spies dropped back a couple of places.
After pumping in some impressive laps, Spies was able to pass fellow countryman Nicky Hayden for fifth, and then set his sights on catching Valentino Rossi.
“I got a really good start and was third but then for the next couple of laps I just couldn’t get my speed up fast enough.” admitted Spies. “The group in front pulled a bit of a gap on me but once I found my rhythm I caught Nicky and Valentino pretty quickly. I passed Nicky and got right on the back of Valentino and it was a good fight 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.”
Spies would finish sixth, and although it wasn’t the podium he would have wanted, it wasn’t all doom and gloom, “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.”
Colin Edwards’ race was a quieter one than Spies’. From the start he stuck with Marco Simoncelli and Marco Melandri as the trio fought over seventh.
“I’m really happy with the way I rode all weekend and there was nothing more I could have done.” said Edwards. “Fighting for seventh is not really where I want to be in my home race, but compared to where I have been recently it is a big improvement and thanks to all my guys at the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew for all their effort.”
Edwards waited until Lap 10 to make a move for eighth, passing Melandri at the hair-raising Corkscrew corner. 5 laps later and he managed to pass Simoncelli.
“I had a good early battle with Melandri and Simoncelli, that was fun and I made a couple of good moves on them as I was quite a bit faster. Once I got by Simoncelli I put my head down to see if I could break them and that’s what I did. I couldn’t even see the group in front of me and I just slowed my pace up a little because it made no sense to crash out of my home race when I was never going to catch them up.”
“I was pretty much stuck in seventh all weekend and I never really had the pace of the leading group. But I’m closer to where I know I should be and the upgrades were a help. I can look forward to a good break confident of a strong second half of the season.”