Ben Spies photo courtesy MotoGPEnlarge Photo
With the game of "musical saddles" already begun in MotoGP, some riders are certainly working to save their seats, including American Ben Spies of Factory Yamaha Racing. The defending winner of the Iveco TT Assen, Spies led all comers in practice on Thursday with second practice time of 1:34.866, just 0.006 seconds ahead of Cal Crutchlow on the Monster Tech3 Yamaha satellite motorcycle's time of 1:34.872. Nicky Hayden's Ducati came third at 1:34.968, only 0.102 behind Spies.
Nicky Hayden image courtesy Ducati TeamEnlarge Photo
Alvaro Bautista continued to show his comfort with the San Carlo Gresini Honda satellite bike with his fourth-best time of 1:35.008, while Yamaha Factory Racing's Jorge Lorenzo, the point leader was fifth at 1:35.057 and Dani Pedrosa was sixth for Repsol Honda at 1:35.080. Teammate Casey Stoner was seventh, Andrea Dovizioso took eighth on the second Monster Tech3 Yamaha, while Valentino Rossi (Ducati) and Hector Barbera (Pramac Ducati) rounded out the top 10, all within 0.432 seconds. Aleix Espargaro led the CRT riders for Power Electronics Aspar at 12th overall, only 1.749 seconds off Spies' benchmark time.
Aleix Espargaro - MotoGP photoEnlarge Photo
Spies was pleased with his progress in both morning and afternoon sessions. "In the second session we did almost race distance on the tires in case it rains tomorrow, to be ready for Saturday," Spies said. Even with beautiful weather in Assen on the Thursday practice day, all riders know the situation can change dramatically in The Netherlands."We had quick times and then tried the soft tire at the end of the session and were able to put down some quick laps with over-race-distance on the front tire. The bike feels good, so we're going to continue on this path and try to make the bike even better for tomorrow and Saturday."
Just 11 days after breaking and dislocating his left ankle in a practice crash at Silverstone, his home race, Crutchlow still managed to set an amazing time in perfect racing conditions. "I am happy to be second considering my physical condition is certainly still not the best after the crash at Silverstone. The target for this weekend," Crutchlow said, "was to try and be inside the top six throughout and I've done that today. This gives me a really big positive and gives me a good boost to take into tomorrow."
Hayden's always been keen on the Assen circuit and found the perfect weather to his liking on Thursday. "The team had some really good ideas, and we tried a couple of things. I enjoyed riding the bike and the day went pretty well. This afternoon we didn't make any big adjustments because the bike is working pretty well at the moment. Tomorrow we're going to work on making the bike better at changing direction, and we'll keep trying to make it better for race distance."