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Spies Q&A: It’s one of the most important weekends

Spies Q&A: It’s one of the most important weekends

Former American MotoGP™ star Ben Spies discusses why the Indianapolis GP is so vital to the championship and gives us his tips for the race.

Ben Spies is a three time AMA Superbike Champion, former WorldSBK Champion (2009) and a MotoGP™ race winner (Assen 2011) whose career was ended by injury in 2013. Spies chatted to ahead of the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix to give us his unique insights into his ‘home’ Grand Prix:

Ben, you have some mixed memories at Indianapolis…
I have had a couple of good moments there, but a couple of big crashes too. Back in 2012 something was going on with the tyres and track and me, Casey and Nicky all had bad crashes there, and the day after in the race we were feeling good, apart from being pretty beat up, and then the motor blew on us. And then in 2013 I messed my shoulder up there, so that wasn’t too good but I have also had some good results there, a couple of podiums and a pole position, so it’s a good track for me. It’s not my favourite track, but the fact they have to make a track on the inside of the NASCAR circuit, they’ve done an amazing job. It’s definitely a different style track, and one that I’m more familiar with growing up in the US because we had to ride on these types of tracks. I think that why guys like me & Nicky always go better there, and hence why Marquez goes well there, as we have flat tracking experience.”

What is the atmosphere like at the track during a GP?
It’s hard for me to really compare it, as its just different. You may not get as many fans as you do in Spain and Italy, but the biggest difference for me is that I can understand what the fans are saying when I walk through the crowd. It’s hard to compare it to anywhere else, for a start it’s in a city and the track is completely different! “

Why do you think Indianapolis is such an important GP?
“Indianapolis is such an important track for MotoGP. Having just come back from the summer break, Indy is such a different track from anything else they see all year long. It’s one of those weekends where you can make or lose a lot more points than at the European tracks, because some people can be really good at it, and some people really suck at it as its so different. It can be such an important track for the championship. It’s one of the most important weekends of the year, I mean you could see Jorge finish 2nd, and Rossi finish 6th, that wouldn’t be crazy, its happened many times before at Indy, so it should be an interesting weekend at Indy!”

Who do you think will win the race?
“Unless something crazy happens, if the same Marquez that showed up to Assen and the Sachsenring, then he is going to win unless he makes a mistake. If he is in the top five on the first lap I think he will win. Don’t write off Pedrosa either, with the slow corners and long straights, his size means he can go through those corners a bit slower than everyone else, pick his line and still have better acceleration than anyone else. The transitions are the only hard part for him because he is so small, muscling the bike side to side at Indy can be hard, and he is a bit slower in those sections. He is just fast at Indy, but I still think Marquez will win as usually its not one of Valentino’s favourite tracks, and he struggles a bit there. This means this could be a big weekend for Jorge. He has struggled here too in the past, but if he can put together a good weekend if he secures 2nd, and say Vale is finishes fifth. If Rossi struggles like he has in the past then it could be a huge points weekend for Lorenzo.”

And who is your money on for the title this year?
“If I were putting money on it – I would say Jorge. He is driven now, he missed out on the title for a couple of years and he is obviously riding good again, and at the tracks he likes he was on it, plus at the ones he didn’t like he was on damage control. I can see by how he is training and how he is approaching everything, he is on a much better platform than he has had for a couple of years. The bike is good, and Marc has struggled with the new chassis until they switched back to the old one. I would say Marc can’t win it - never say never - but because when Jorge and Valentino are riding at the level they are at, and their bike is better this year. It will take Marc being perfect, and then Jorge and Valentino need to have bad races too and I don’t see that happening. I could see Marquez winning every race, or Jorge and Rossi having a bad race, but to have all of of the things happen needed to let Marquez lift the title…I just don’t think the stars will align like that. Jorge, I just believe he will win it. He is fast and with the races left he is the man my money is on.”

Where is the next US MotoGP rider going to come from?
“I am mentoring the next big thing from the US, Cameron Beaubier. He is a super good kid, super fast, he raced in Europe in the Red Bull Rookies, and the issue he had was that in his first season in 125cc World Championship he was teammates with a certain Marc Marquez plus he also had a bad injury, so he basically missed that whole season. He has the talent to play a big part in the World Championships, and I am trying to get him over there and he is the next person that deserves to be there, so it’s been fun to help him out.”





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