Sunday Post Race Debrief: Ben Spies

In the last of our post-race debriefs, Ben Spies speaks about his first visit to the epic arena of Jerez:

The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider had been bitterly disappointed by his result, when a front end problem had forced him to pull out. "I'm really bummed out that the race just didn't pan out so that we could get out and see where we could have been. I said after this warmup, with the setup we had, we felt we could legitimately fight for a top 6 spot, be right at the cusp of that battle of 4th to 7th. But on the second lap, I knew we were facing some big problems. I tried to ride around it, but I couldn't. I hadn't even had one near crash the whole weekend, and I had seven or eight legitimate saves the first three laps. I didn't really want to stack the bike up." 

"It was pretty disappointing, we had a good warmup, we had a good start, and I was behind the players of the race that I wanted to be behind, and as soon as everybody got settled in and the race started picking up at the start of the second lap, we started to run into some problems. After a couple of minutes looking at the data, we could see I was doing exactly the same thing I had been doing all weekend, and the bike just wasn't responding like it had been. I tried to do a couple of different things, but it just wasn't working. It's not one thing that we came in and said it's that or it's this, it just didn't happen to day, we had a problem with the front grip. "

"My first thought after the first couple of seconds was like, you've gotta be kiddin' me! I've got a good start, I'm right where I need to be, this is all going good, and everyone started passing me and I started running wide. I had a group of four guys behind me so I just let them go, and then tried to get back into a rhythm. Tried that, didn't work, almost crashed again, and I was just going to keep going backwards. For the people on the track, I wasn't going to be beating anybody today."

Spies had considered replacing a wheel and going back out again, but with the engine rules so restrictive, he felt he had little to gain by doing so. "We talked about putting in a new front wheel, I thought about it a bit. We really didn't have a conversation in the garage about it. It was more that I was thinking once I knew I was coming in, was that the best case scenario was a couple of people crash, I put on a new front tire, I still get a point or two. From where I am in the championship, it's not like I'm battling for the top three or anything, and it's another 24 hard laps on the engine. There's no point in finishing if we're not finishing in the top 10. And we're testing here tomorrow, so from a lap standpoint, so I'll do a race test tomorrow when the bike's feeling good. It sounds bad, not that you don't want to go out there, but we weren't going to get a whole lot accomplished. "

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that he didn't go back out. with the limited practice and testing time available one would think as much seat time as possible is a good thing. setting a fast or 2nd fast lap, even from 17th position, would be noticed. if he is not concerned about fighting for a top 3 position then taking a engine penalty wouldn't be a big deal either.

'There's no point in finishing if we're not finishing in the top 10.' is a bit of a lame statement. points get awarded back to 15th and every one counts. ask colin how important one point can be!

david, is this individual rider debriefing a new thing? cool stuff. it must be fun to have direct access to the best of the best.


I actually agree with him.
Ben isn't it it for catching a single point or finishing 3 or 4 laps down. With these (poor) new engine rules, there really wasn't much to be gained.

I was heartbroken to see him leave the race after getting right up with the front group because we all knew he had the pace. I almost turned the race off and didn't want to watch anymore, I was that bummed!

First thing that came to my mind was when he had previously talked about trying to find the limit and trust in the tires from the beginning of the race... I wonder if his mind was playing tricks on him? I know it sounds ridiculous but they said there was no issue with the tire, it wasn't flat and I'm assuming they used the same settings from QP. So all I could think of was that maybe he pushed really hard to get up front and run the pace and then lost confidence because the front pulled a "Casey" and started folding a bit??

I know it's crazy to even suggest but I thought I'd throw it out there and see what everyone else thought. Anyway, another amazing race for Jorge (the guy is a pitbull); A great job by Pedros/Rossi and another solid result for Hayden. Here's hoping all three Americans have a better race at Le Mans.

Thanks for the great coverage MM. I've been waiting for someone to report on this incident for hours to read more.

twitter @deftjester

Yea I saw that he wasn't literally inside the garage but thought that the statement was a generalization, thanks for clearing that up. I didn't see any footage of Spies in the garage or pit lane though and I wonder if he did pull in to the garage literally or sat a few feet out of it like Aleix?

twitter @deftjester

No, Spies crossed the line going into the garage, and then he's not allowed to go back out again. The idea behind retiring was to save the engine for later in the year. If you use an extra engine, you're starting from pit lane and (at most tracks) a long way behind the rest. So saving an engine makes a lot of sense.

The new engine rules are hurting the show. We'll see how the cost savings pan out but I still think it's an ass backwards way of doing things. They're killing post race celebrations, track time, sponsor's exposure, etc. Let's make the sport duller and less about rider skill to save money, yeah that'll work well. It just doesn't make sense that a rider should choose to sit out on some valuable testing or points to conserve his engine when he's already at the track, not that I blame Spies. They're down to 17 bikes already! Which I thought was under the FIM requirements anyway but still...

This is all very strange and confusing. Spies never seemed to me like a guy that would quit a race if the feeling was bad and he could not be in the top 10. But I suppose he had a very good reason.

I didn't see it on the coverage, but did Spies pull straight into the garage, or did they wheel his bike in after discussing the problem..? If it's the latter then it's a team decision, if not it was Bens decision.
He must know the rule, that means your race is over if you cross the line and enter the garage, and if it was his decision alone, it does strike me as a little surprising..
Surely the extra track time under race conditions, his crew trying to fix the problem and him going back out to collect some valuable experience, and maybe points..outweigh putting another 100kms on an engine designed to go 1600kms.?
It is a genuine concern for fans and sponsors alike, if teams are pulling riders to conserve motors. Any news on the MSMA and 2012/CRTs..or was the reduced 10 sec penalty the only thing that came out in what appears to be a sorry excuse of a meeting.

At the Valencia test, end of last season, when Ben was trying to diffuse the hype surrounding his stellar performance, he talked about 8-10th place in the championship as a realistic goal this year, now it's top ten or nothing?
It must be massively frustrating and disappointing to go backwards in the race, after another good practice and especially with the start he got in the race..he was there.
It will be interesting to see what the diagnosis would'nt surprise me to see a fired up Spies top of testing at Jerez today

Spies had a few reasons to park it. First he's a racer...& if you aren't racing for position, you are doing the racing equivalent of kissing your sister (going thru the motion for no gratification); and more importantly he didn't want to effect anyone's race results i.e. go out & possibly cause somebody to crash because they were passing or racing him.

What his saving the motor explanation does is highlight another unintended consequense of the 6 motor rule. David, can you explain the economics involved in long-life motors? I just checked freight rates Europe-Japan & its only 850Yen/kg so that surely won't break any budget. They obviously have spare parts at the factory so where are the burdensom costs coming from?

Sitting here in Madrid airport (which is why there's been not much happening on the site today), I've been typing up an interview I did with Filippo Preziosi, in which he talks about that. After all, it's not the shipping that's expensive, it's the engineers waiting at the end who tear them down and rebuild them. 

I'm honestly not positive that Spies was thinking about the fact that pulling in the garage meant he had retired. The description of events doesn't line up with what happened. If he pulled in, there could have been no discussion regarding going back out.

I think it is most likely that this is a bonehead mistake rather than a sign of Spies giving up.

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a very deep breathe and remember he is a rookie this year. Even though he dominated in WSB and the expectations were/are exxxtttrrremely high for him this year, he still gets a pass on this race from me in my book. I went back a watched the recorded race on high def and looked at the beginning of the race and with 26 to go if you watch very closely, Ben washed the front end twice and ran wide at Dry Sac and nearly crashed as well. To be quite honest, I believe he did the right thing by coming in. The big picture here is learning the tracks, picking up gems and maybe winning rookie of the year but most of all staying healthy. Staying on the track was not the "healthiest" thing to do at Jerez. You can ask any racer and they all have had days like this. Sometimes its just not your day and if you could ask Nicky about last year, i'm sure he would agree. There were days I'm sure he wished he would have just pulled into the pits and saved his body for the next test/race. Anyway, congrats to Ben on a good quali and jumping to sixth early on. NEXT!

I agree wholeheartedly with you on this. Expectations are really high for him and everyone forgets he's a rookie. For the record though, I'm not ragging on him for the decision not to go back out or for the DNF because I think it was the right decision to conserve the engine and not potentially stack it up. I was just really bummed for him.

Hope all goes well in Le Mans :)

twitter @deftjester