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A chat with the three-time US AMA Superbike champion, Ben Spies, ahead of his third MotoGP appearance of the year, next weekend at the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix.
Following his pair of MotoGP races earlier this year Ben Spies is set for a third appearance for the Rizla Suzuki team next weekend at the inaugural Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix.
The talented Texan is still rumoured to be set for a full-time arrival in MotoGP next season, but for now he has his mind focussed on beating the creditable eighth place he achieved with Suzuki at Laguna Seca in July.
Spies arrives at Indianapolis in a determined mood, having recently clinched his third successive US AMA Superbike title.
How do you view your MotoGP experience so far with your appearances at Donington and Laguna Seca earlier this season?
`The experiences have been great. I mean at Donington I wasn´t where I wanted to be position-wise but it was a great learning weekend. Then at Laguna I was happy with that result though I would obviously still liked it to have been better, I just struggled a little bit in the first half of the race. Everything has been good. I loved working with the team. It´s fun and every time we do it we get better and get more comfortable with it.´
What struck you most about racing in MotoGP?
`The biggest thing is just how the riders are catered to. I was surprised that even for me as a wildcard rider I´d wake up and I´d have someone from either Suzuki or Alpinestars who would get up and make breakfast just for me and I wasn´t used to it. It was a shock!´
How do you rate the racing in MotoGP, do riders push harder than in AMA or are they more aggressive?
`I don´t know whether they are more aggressive because I haven´t got racing closely with anyone yet. It is hard to say, I mean I didn´t see anything that completely blew my mind where I would just want to pack it in and never go racing again, but the difference is that instead of two or three fast guys there are fifteen, sixteen or seventeen fast guys.´
How difficult was it to adapt your riding style in particular when you rode AMA and MotoGP on the same weekend at Laguna?
`That was hard. That is one thing, looking back at that, at Laguna, if I wasn´t jumping on two different bikes maybe I could have done a little bit better, but then again maybe not. It is extremely different. I struggled with it a bit, still trying to get used to the tyres. I think the tyres are the biggest difference from what we are used to and it takes time. Hopefully Indy will be a little bit better for us.´
What happened with the surgery you required after the Laguna Seca race?
`My appendix was messed up afterwards and I had some fluid from it in my stomach. It caused an infection and they had to take my appendix out. I started to feel it on the Saturday at Laguna and just rode through it, then when I got home after the weekend I had to go to hospital. But anyway I feel really good now.´
How has riding in MotoGP affected your AMA season, if at all?
`It has not really affected anything. I mean the only difference is I think my Laguna race on the superbike would have been a bit better if I wasn´t swapping between bikes. But in any other way I don´t think it has had any effect in a good way or a bad way.´
Thinking about Indianapolis, what are your expectations and how useful was it to do the tyre test in July?
`I think it was useful but I think they have made some small changes to the track since then. Anyway, I just want to improve every time I get on the bike and I can´t really say what result I want because you never know how good people are going to ride on a given day. All I can ask for is to get a better result than at Laguna and then we´re proving that I´m getting better every time.´
Are you still working closely with Kevin Schwantz?
`Yes, Kevin helps me out. We are more like friends than anything. He gives me advice, I ask him questions and we are good friends. I talk with him a lot and that is about it.´
What ambitions do you still have for your future as a rider?
`Well, just to ride in MotoGP on good equipment and in a good team, and to do well at it. How well you never know. You have got to give yourself an opportunity to be on good stuff and see what you can do with it. I want to get over there, get on good stuff, ride as hard as I can, let that take care of the results and see where they fall.´
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