Ben Spies tests the 2012 Yamaha - MotoGP PhotoEnlarge Photo
You can't keep a good rider down.
Ben Spies, the three-time AMA Superbike champion who just completed his second year of MotoGP competition and his first with the Factory Yamaha team, suffered quite the accident in the Australian MotoGP round less than a month ago. He had a hit to the head in qualifying for that race and was forced to sit out the competition.
Spies came back in the last two races and, in the finale at Valencia last weekend finished second to 2011 champion Casey Stoner, getting snookered at the run-up to the checkered flags by a breathtaking 0.015 seconds.
With teammate and 2010 champion Jorge Lorenzo unable to ride since his left fourth finger injury in the same Australian race, the mantle of team leader for the two-day post-season test session has fallen to Spies. He's taken it handily.
Spies conducted the second day of testing on the Valencia road circuit; this was an official MotoGP test session for the new, 1000-cc motorcycles that will take over from the much unloved 800s next year. He worked through differing engine specifications and also sampled a number of frame and geometry settings on the 2012 Yamaha 1000cc YZR-M1.
All data accumulated during this test goes to Japan with the Yamaha engineers, who will intensify their work on the next stage of development. The first calendar year 2012 test for the MotoGP teams and riders is scheduled at Sepang at the end of January.
While Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner of Repsol Honda were the quickest riders in the two-day test session, Spies captured third with a best lap time of 1:32.338. He completed 57 laps today.
"It's been a long two days," Spies said. "We had a lot of work to do with Jorge not being here, but we've gotten through everything. I think we got the guys working in the right direction but we're still quite a way from Qatar and what we'll be racing with (at the start of the season). We've got a good idea of what we need to work on," he said.
"There's a lot of potential in what we have, so the engineers will go back to Japan now to work on it for a coulee of months. We'll see what we have as a package next year. The team and engineers worked really hard for the last couple of days, so a big thank you to them."
Team director Massimo Meregalli considered this "a really good test. We got a lot of data. The schedule is completed and we are quite satisfied. There is, of course, still some work to do but I think it's been positive. Ben did a really good job; I've never seen him so focused in a test - it's the best way to start the new season."
© 2011 Anne Proffit