News 29 Aug 2010

MotoGP: Spies storms to first ever GP pole at Indianapolis

Ben Spies will start a MotoGP race from pole position for the first time on Sunday after he laid down a fantastic hot lap in qualifying for the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix.

The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rookie posted a best time of 1:40.105 on his final flying lap to delight the home crowd and mark another highlight in what has already been an eventful weekend following confirmation of his factory ride for 2011.

The Texan celebrates a first pole after already having tasted podium champagne at Silverstone in June in what is quickly becoming an impressive debut season in the premier class of motorcycle racing.

“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 and here at Indianapolis with all the history makes it even more special,” Spies said. “And I’m glad for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team too.

“This team 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.

“But 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.”

Spies was 0.220s quicker than Championship leader and last year’s race winner Jorge Lorenzo who took his Fiat Yamaha M1 machine round in the second fastest time, and there was further joy for the American fans as Nicky Hayden took his first Ducati front-row place with third.

“This was a really difficult session because it was so hot and the track was very slippery and bumpy, it was hard to know what to expect,” Lorenzo said. “Luckily we managed a good lap and I’m happy with second place, Ben’s lap was amazing so well done to him.

“A good start will be really important tomorrow because there are many fast riders behind and I think it will be a tough battle for everyone. Our setting is good and we are happy with the choice for the tyre so we will try our best and see what we can do here in Indy.”

Hayden was just a hundredth of a second behind Lorenzo on the timesheet in a typically action-packed and frantic hour-long session.

“I finally got my first front row with Ducati – it only took a year and a half!” Hayden beamed. “We’re really happy for it though especially because it’s so important for tomorrow’s race. If I want to be running up front tomorrow I have to be there from the start and I told Juan [Martinez – Nicky’s crew chief] before the session that we were due a front row and today was the day to get it.

“We found a decent setting on race tyres and when we put the soft compound in the jump was so big it felt like the kind of qualifying tyres we used to have. To have two American’s on the front row is great for MotoGP in this country and for everybody who supports it over here. Hopefully it brings out a big crowd tomorrow and we’ll do our best to put on a good show.”

Riders who were quick in the morning session found the going tough as the temperature soared and grip levels decreased, with Andrea Dovizioso holding top spot briefly before his best time of 1:40.559 eventually placed him fourth on the starting grid, with his Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa fifth just under eight-hundredths further back.

A visibly frustrated Casey Stoner, who had been fastest in both free practice sessions, could only qualify in sixth as he lapped 0.559s off the pace of Spies on his Ducati Desmosedici GP10.

“I’m not very happy with this afternoon’s qualifying session, we expected to be a little faster,” Stoner said. “During the session we struggled to find the grip with the hard tyre so we spent a lot of time trying to fix it and unfortunately we tried a couple of different things and then when we switched immediately to soft tyres we had trouble with the setting and we didn’t have a lot of feeling.

“I’m a little disappointed for sure but I think we can expect a little bit better race pace, so I’m confident enough for tomorrow. I think we should have a bit better race pace than some of the riders in front of us today.”

The third row will be headed up by Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha) with the Italian left bewildered but uninjured when he fell at turn six with little over five minutes to go – his second fall of the day following an earlier one in practice.

The reigning world champion has struggled to match the speed of the front-runners this weekend and will hope to find some improvements with his crew overnight.

“We worked hard today to try to recover the feeling we’ve lost and we have made some improvement,” Rossi said. “Unfortunately I crashed at the worst point in the session, with the soft tyre in and doing some fast laps but with not enough time left to try again. It could have been worse because I thought I would end up much further back than seventh, so we can be happy for this.

“This track is very bumpy and I really think something needs to be done to some parts of it to improve it. I don’t know when the last time I crashed twice on one day is but for sure it was many years ago, back in the 90s perhaps!

“Luckily I am okay, nothing is hurt and this is the most important thing. I think tomorrow is going to be a very interesting day because me, Pedrosa and Stoner are all behind the front row which is unusual. It could be fun!”

Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini) also had a crash in the final stages of the session but managed to secure eighth place, equalling his best qualification so far this season, with Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) completing the top ten.

Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP Team) was 13th in his first qualifying practice since returning from injury, whilst Aleix Espargaró (Pramac Racing) had a fall at turn 13 and subsequently qualified in 14th.

Julián Simón achieved his first Moto2 pole at Indianapolis on Saturday with a late surge in qualifying, posting a best time of 1:46.139 on his final lap to shoot to top spot on the starting grid for Sunday’s race.

Scott Redding had looked on course to convert his dominance of both practice sessions into a first ever world championship pole, but his Marc VDS team-mate Héctor Faubel overtook him with a fantastic lap that moved him to the top.

However, Simón eventually secured pole, 0.148s ahead of Faubel and with Redding just a further 0.047s down on his Spanish colleague. Simone Corsi (JiR Moto2) completed the front row in fourth place.

It was a tight affair on the second row with Anthony West (MZ Racing) taking fifth, just three-thousandths of a second ahead of championship leader Toni Elías (Gresini Racing) who had a fall at turn six with ten minutes to go and climbed straight back on his bike.

Ratthapark Wilairot (Thai Honda PTT Singha-SAG) and Sergio Gadea (Tenerife 40 Pons) were seventh and eight respectively.

There were falls in the session for Andrea Iannone (Fimmco Speed Up) – 26th – and Fonsi Nieto (G22 Holiday Gym) – 12th – who both had to go to the medical centre for attention, whilst Raffaele de Rosa (Tech 3 Racing) escaped such misfortune when he crashed, eventually qualifying in tenth.

Yusuke Teshima (JiR Moto2), who had a big crash in the morning practice session, was on track after suffering a bruised left foot and qualified 37th.

Marc Márquez set an ominous challenge for his rivals as he set a new 125cc pole position record in qualifying for Sunday’s race at Indianapolis, taking over a second off Julián Simón’s 2009 record.

The Red Bull Ajo Motorsport rider’s effort of 1:48.124 left him almost half a second clear of the rest of the field as he prepared to attempt to extend his championship lead in Sunday’s race.

In second place was Nico Terol (Bancaja Aspar), whose best lap was 0.479s off that of Márquez’s, with Terol’s team-mate Bradley Smith third at a further 0.423s off his colleague. Sandro Cortese’s solid form from practice carried through as he took the final spot on the front row.

Heading up the second row of the grid will be last year’s race winner Pol Espargaró, who failed to qualify on the front row for the first time this season.

The Tuenti Racing rider was 1.540s off title rival Márquez as he experienced a difficult session, sliding off on his Derbi machine early on but avoiding injury. His team-mate Efrén Vázquez, Luis Salom (Stipa-Molenaar Racing), and Johann Zarco (WTR San Marino Team) will complete the second row.

Tomoyoshi Koyama (Racing Team Germany) and Esteve Rabat (Blusens-STX) finished inside the top ten, with Danny Webb (Andalucia Cajasol) missing much of the session due to an early crash but still managing to qualify in 11th.

Luca Marconi (Team Ongetta) suffered mechanical issues early in the session and Zarco had a fall towards the end, as did rookie Jakub Kornfeil (Racing Team Germany).

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