Ben Spies’ debut season keeps going from strength to strength. Two days after it was announced that the young Texan would be taking Valentino Rossi’s seat at the factory Yamaha squad for 2011, he has stormed to pole position at his second home Grand Prix.
Spies had spent the vast majority of the session trying to focus his race setup, and as the field lined up for a final attack on pole position, Spies looked dangerous and rocketed to provisional pole from 9th. After being knocked off the top spot by Ducati’s Nicky Hayden and future team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, Spies put in a blistering lap to re-claim the top spot. And even though Lorenzo put in a valiant effort, coming within 0.2s of Spies time, it was the satellite rider who claimed the spoils.
Speaking after the session, Spies was in a jubilant mood, “This is a great feeling for me to get my first MotoGP pole position and for it to come in front of the American crowd makes it even more special. And I’m glad for the team too. They helped catapult me into this position and I’ve been trying to give as much for them as I can, even though I’ll be moving to Yamaha’s factory team next year. I’ve got to say I really put it on the line this afternoon. I’d come so close at Brno a couple of weeks ago to getting my first pole position and I really wanted to finish the job on home soil. And being on the front row with Nicky too is pretty incredible for MotoGP racing in America. There was no way coming into this weekend that I thought this result was possible. Bur I’ve been able to do it and now I’m going to concentrate on getting a good start and giving it everything in the race. I’d love a podium and my best result at home but I’m not going to get ahead of myself. But right now I’ll certainly enjoy today”
Fellow American, team-mate Colin Edwards couldn’t match the pace of his younger counterpart, ending the qualifying session in ninth. Edwards looks strong on the harder compound tyre, being in the top 6 at one point. But after switching to the softer compound, his pace fell away.
“Honestly I expected to be a bit higher up than ninth and after this morning I felt I could get into the mid-40s and be on the second row. But it was really hot out there this afternoon and it made the track quite slippery.” said Edwards after the session.
“When you put the soft tyres on you expect to go a fair bit faster but I didn’t really improve much at all. Normally I’d expect to shave off 0.3s but I just didn’t have the grip in the heat. On the hard tyre for the race we’ve got a good setting and I’m confident of a strong race. I’ve had a good pace on them all weekend so a top six finish is not out of the question. I’d like to congratulate Ben too because his performance today was just fantastic. He did an awesome job and it is great for the team too.”