The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team made a positive start to its all-important home race at the Le Mans circuit in France today and Ben Spies once again showed that he could learn brand new tracks with relative ease.
Colin Edwards overcame an early set-up issue to impressively climb his way up the rankings into sixth position at the session’s conclusion, the Texan ending with a best time of 1.35.089 in a closely contested opening practice that saw the top eight split by less than a second.
The iconic Le Mans circuit has been a happy hunting ground for Edwards with two of his 11 MotoGP podium finishes scored at the French venue. And Edwards finished just 0.100s behind Dani Pedrosa to finish top satellite team rider.
Ben Spies took full advantage of the hot conditions to demonstrate once again that he needs little time to master a new circuit and post competitive times against the world’s elite MotoGP riders.
Spies has never ridden at Le Mans previously but he was instantly able to set a consistently fast pace in the 1.35 bracket as temperatures soared to 28 degrees.
As his confidence grew, Spies climbed into the top six at one stage before he settled for a hugely encouraging eighth position.
Spies again accomplished his first objectives to finish inside the top ten and be less than a second off the quickest pace. The 25-year-old’s best time of 1.35.291 was just 0.889s away from Valentino Rossi’s best pace and just over 0.2s away from a place in the top six. Spies is confident that overnight set-up changes to his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 machine will enable him to narrow the gap to the leading group and improve his position on the timesheets tomorrow.
Colin Edwards 6th 1.35.089 – 26 laps
“I am not as happy or comfortable as I thought I would be at this track. I know this is a good track for me and also the Yamaha, but at the moment I just don’t have the comfort level to enable me to push as hard as I know I can. I don’t feel comfortable going into the corner and on the exit I’m losing too much. I had the same sort of issue at the last two races and even though I’ve got a completely different balance on the bike now, I still seem to be struggling. I need the bike to be a bit smoother and less nervous. We can make it better and I know my guys at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 will figure something out because they always do. I don’t think the set-up is that far away but I just need to refine it. This is a massive race for Tech 3 and Monster, so I’m determined to improve and put on a good show on Sunday.”
Ben Spies 8th 1.35.291 – 27 laps
“It was a pretty good session. Early on the main focus is just to learn the track and I felt good pretty much all over the track apart from a couple of points that I figured out right at the end to get in a good lap time. The track doesn’t have anything super tricky to learn but I’ve still got to get my bearings at Turn One a little bit, but for just one hour I got a lot accomplished. We can make some changes and I’m sure we can find a bit of time in the bike. The front-end can be dialled in a little bit better. But because I don’t really have the experience at this track, it is hard to know what the bike is capable of. But I feel like there’s a couple of tenths in the bike and me. I’m under a second off the best time and in the top ten and that is my target right now. I don’t believe in the next session I’ll be running at the front, but I can certainly cut the gap and move up a bit more.”
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