American Ben Spies lived up to the hype with a solid fifth place on debut with Monster Tech 3 Yamaha at Qatar last weekend.
American rookie Ben Spies produced a dazzling performance in Qatar’s MotoGP World Championship season opener last weekend to end a stunning Monster Yamaha Tech 3 debut in fifth position, living up to expectations as the current Superbike World Champion and finishing within striking distance of the podium on debut.
In an enthralling 22-lap race under the Losail International Circuit floodlights, Spies produced one of the performances of the evening to storm through from 11th on the grid to a career best top five in only his fifth MotoGP start.
“I’m happy because I knew we had the bike and I knew I was riding decent,” Spies commented on his stellar debut. “Some things didn’t go my way in qualifying and while it wasn’t really a smooth weekend, it came together in the race. I gave 110 per cent every lap and that’s all I can do and at the end I came out with a decent result.”
Speaking about his debut in his first full season of MotoGP, the Texan credited his pace on race tyres and aggression in the opening laps.
“The key was that I knew we had a good pace on race tyres,” he explained. “I got a good start and I was quite aggressive in the first couple of laps to try and make up some places and keep contact with the front group. My confidence was growing in the middle of the race and I could see Jorge [Lorenzo] and Valentino [Rossi] and those guys not a million miles in front of me.
“I wasn’t catching them a lot, but I knew for a few laps in the middle of the race I was definitely the quickest out of the top five. Maybe if I’d have qualified higher I might have been in that fight for the podium at the end. But I can’t be too greedy and this is a good start for me and gives me a platform to build on for the rest of the season.”
For several laps, Spies was the fastest man on track and he ended with the fourth best time of 1:56.087 clocked on lap 17.
Opting to settle for fifth as a dramatic battle for the podium unfolded in front of him, Spies finished just over two seconds off third position. And impressively on only his second race for Yamaha, he was less than four seconds away from race winner and reigning world champion Valentino Rossi at the race’s end.