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· You got the talkin' done
15,540 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By Henny Ray Abrams
Photo By Henny Ray Abrams (Photo © Cycle News, Inc. 2007)
Texas Shootout 11/5/2007

VALENCIA, SPAIN, NOV.5: Yoshimura Suzuki’s Ben Spies won the battle of the Texans after showing mentor Kevin Schwantz that he was a very quick learner in his MotoGP debut on the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia, Spain.

The two-time AMA Superbike Champion jumped on the Rizla Suzuki GSV-R 800 that John Hopkins rode to third in Sunday’s season-ending Valencia Grand Prix and immediately impressed.

While riding with Schwantz, who was on Hopkins' spare, the pair got down into the 1:36 mins. lap range. But by the end of the day, Spies had lapped the 2.5-circuit he’d never seen, on a bike and tires he’d never before ridden, in 1:34.8 mins. To put it into perspective, the time is about a second off the race pace of Hopkins and less than that off the pace of Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen. And all of that in 33 laps.

“I think he did a great job to just jump on it, hadn’t been to the track, and going,” Tom Houseworth, Spies’ Yoshimura Suzuki crew chief, said.

Schwantz was first on track and slowed down to let Spies catch up and show him the way around the track. Then it was Spies’ turn and he quickly pulled away from his mentor. But, from his years running the Kevin Schwantz Suzuki School, and a sterling grand prix career, Schwantz has learned a few things about teaching and there are a few things Spies needs to learn.

“He still rides the thing a lot like a Superbike and it’s one of his weaknesses on the Superbike is into the corner, (that he gets) back into initial throttle too early,” Schwantz began, “but he rolls so much speed through the center of the corner that he gets so much more speed in the center that he’s got to wait, wait, wait, wait until he can open the throttle wide open.

“Whereas, if he just went in, waited a little bit longer, turned it a little more…and he’s doing that in a couple of spots here; turn two, the U-turn in the middle, and then the last turn a little bit. And those are the only spots I could make any ground on him at all.

“He was really good getting in on the brakes, even when the thing’s off the center of the tire.”

Schwantz observed Spies go through the direction change off the back straightaway. “You have that long left and then you have the left-right and then he goes over the paint, over the paint. And the paint, no matter how grippy it is, I just don’t use it.” Houseworth said he and Spies had watched the race from that area and had seen Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa riding across the paint. Plus, he “probably saw it on the Playstation,” Houseworth said.

When he first came into the pits, “He had a big smile on his face, like the first time he tested with us. I was amazed. Big smile,” Houseworth said.

“He said it seemed like an electric motor. The bottom end power is not as torquey as what he’s used to, but overall pretty fast.

“The tires don’t move around at all. He hasn’t gotten to the point where he’s complained about any grip issues yet. I know in the race they were having grip issues, but he hasn’t gotten to that point yet.”

Little was changed on the motorcycle except to make it fit Spies better.

“Normally, in a situation like this, where you’re just trying to see how it goes, you really don’t mess with much,” Houseworth said. “He needs to learn the tires, the bike, the suspension, there’s a lot of stuff. So if you start playing with things it can get out of control.”

As for his run with Schwantz, Houseworth said, “They’re just having a ball. They’re playing. I think it’s kind of good. Kevin’s showed him some areas…Kevin’s been around here 100 times. Hopefully that helps.”

Spies was riding as a journalist and was prohibited by Rizla Suzuki from talking to any of his fellow journalists. The day after the final grand prix is traditionally reserved for journalists from around the world to test the MotoGP machines.

Initially, it seemed unlikely that he’d ride again on Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday, when the factory teams begin testing for the 2008 season. Rizla Suzuki has a new motorcycle and a new rider, Loris Capirossi, as well as test rider Nobu Aoki, which means there will be little time or equipment for Spies. But, given his impressive performance, Suzuki would be foolish not to give him a closer look.

· Grid Marshall. ,
26,896 Posts
Really, Spies on a GP bike in 2009 a given? I would say so.
There is still some tempered speculation for the '08 season! It would require only that Yoshimura Suzuki allow Ben to leave under contract and of course Suzuki to field a third motorcycle...but given his lap times, that rumor may have just gained some ground.:)

· You got the talkin' done
15,540 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
It would require only that Yoshimura Suzuki allow Ben to leave under contract and of course Suzuki to field a third motorcycle...
And Dorna and HRC have been pressuring Suzuki and Kawasaki to field more bikes for some time. If Dorna dangles some money in front of them ....

How about we bring back Sito Pons and have him run the team?
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