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Spies learns fast at wet and windy Estoril

Spies learns fast at wet and windy Estoril

Ben Spies conquered another steep another learning curve at the Estoril track in Portugal today, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider ending the opening day of MotoGP practice in an impressive fifth position.

The tight and twisty Estoril circuit is another venue Spies has never ridden on before and the task of learning the circuit was made more complicated by this afternoon's session taking place on a wet track.

Conditions were so treacherous as a result of torrential rain and strong winds this morning that Spies and Colin Edwards did not even venture out on track as Friday morning practice was restored to the schedule. After a successful trial at the Motorland Aragón track in Spain last month, practice and qualifying will run over four 45-minute sessions for the final two rounds.

When this afternoon's practice got underway, the relentless rain had stopped and by the end of the session blue and sunny skies had broken through, which had seemed an unlikely prospect less than an hour earlier.

Spies once again demonstrated his skill at learning a new track with incredible ease, the 26 year-old building up his confidence before a lap of 1'49.721 secured him fifth position. The 2010 Rookie of the Year was once again the leading non-factory rider and is confident further set-up tweaks to cope with more wet weather forecast for the rest of the weekend will put him in contention for a third podium finish of the season.

A heavy crash with just under 15 minutes remaining ended the session prematurely for Edwards. The 36 year-old was able to quickly find a strong rhythm in the tricky conditions and was comfortably lapping in the top three in the early stages.

But he slipped down to 12th with a best time of 1'53.510 after a small mistake at turn eight saw him crash out, the Texan suffering a painful blow to his left hip.

As a result of today's adverse conditions, tomorrow's practice and qualifying will be run over one hour.

Ben Spies – 5th:

“Today didn't start off well with the heavy rain this morning and it just wasn't worth going out and taking any risks. This afternoon was much better but it was still full wet conditions. It makes it really hard having to learn a new track when the conditions are wet. You just don't know what the grip is like or where the strong points of the track are and for the first part of the session it was a bit like riding blindfolded. I tried to follow a few people and I got a good feeling pretty quickly though and to be top five on my first day in those conditions is something I'm really happy about. There were a few tricky spots out on the track today and that made it difficult without me fully understanding the limits. A few guys were caught out but I didn't really have any moments and I'm looking forward to a positive weekend after a strong start.”

Colin Edwards – 12th:

“The session started really good. I felt confident on the bike immediately and was right at the front for a while. This track is kind of funny because it looks really slick but there is actually a lot of grip and obviously Yamaha has got a really good rain setting because Jorge, Valentino and Ben are all in the top five. I'm sure I could have been up there too but I made a small mistake before the chicane. I drifted a little bit wide and all of a sudden the rear stepped out. It came back and I saved it but looked up and saw the wall on the other side of the gravel trap, so I just threw myself off the bike. I banged my left hip but I'm going to be fine for tomorrow.”

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 press release

MotoGP, 2010, bwin GRANDE PREMIO DE PORTUGAL, Ben Spies, Colin Edwards, Monster Yamaha Tech 3

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