AMA superbike champion ready for Assen if Capirossi unfit
BEN SPIES made a quick adaptation to riding a MotoGP bike in the rain, placing eight for a third-row start in the streaming qualifying session in his outing as substitute for the injured Loris Capirossi.
The day before, in only his second time on the Rizla Suzuki after 30 odd laps at Valencia last year, he had impressed observers by consistently gaining speed and confidence at a track he’d never seen before, but somewhat disappointed himself by placing 17th and second-last in the dry.
Spies not only had to learn the bike and the technically challenging British circuit, but also adapt from his usual Dunlops to Bridgestone tyres and different front-and-rear suspension, and use carbon brakes for the first time. “The whole front end of the bike is new to me.
“It’d be a different story if I was on my Superbike around here. Trying to learn the bike and the track is a little tricky. I’m not usually this far back. But if we can drop another second, we’re going to be right in there with a bunch of people to race,” he said.
The GP Suzuki, compared with his Suzuki Superbike, felt “like I’m on a completely different brand of a bike. They don’t compare in one way,” he said, adding that there was not much difference in speed and power.
Niall Mackenzie had given him a guided scooter tour of the track, and he’d had advice also from Kevin Schwantz, and from fellow-Americans Nicky Hayden and Colin Edwards. All had warned him of the notorious downhill Craner Curves, the first left-hander on the lap and the downfall of many a rider on cold tyres.
His main aim was to move to MotoGP as soon as possible. “Now I know that with the right time on the bike and a good team that we could do it for sure. We might not win a race the fist year or two, but I know we can be competitive. So we’ve just got to work on getting that achieved,” he said.
Asked about a possible move to Superbikes first, he said: “Obviously that’s just another year that I’m not in this paddock. You know, I thought I was young until I’d seen all these little kids on those 125s. The fact is, if I want to do something over here, I need to be over here as early as I can.”
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