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GP Week : Issue 156
GPWEEK: Bad season so far. How are you coping? BEN SPIES: At first it was quite difficult but now I’m approaching every weekend like it’s the last race of the season. There’s no doubt we’ve had a rough start, the worst I’ve ever had. But with every athlete in every sport you can’t be always perfect and not have problems, and everybody goes through a slump at some time. There’ve been many small things people don’t know about or you can’t see. Issues with the bike; I made some mistakes. When you add it all together it’s four bad Sundays. But I know I didn’t lose talent over the winter. At Qatar it turned out your seat unit had a crack in it. How did that feel? One of the worst feelings I’ve ever had. I didn’t know what was happening. It felt like I had a square tyre on the back – couldn’t do the corner speed, get on the throttle. It felt like there was no shock in the rear. At Estoril I made a bunch of mistakes because I got over-eager. At Le Mans we had some bad luck with the visor after the start when I hit my head on the screen and we lost one lap in the pits ... but we went back out, and the last eight laps were actually quite positive. It can turn around. Last season I had a very bad crash in Australia and I couldn’t ride in Malaysia. It was a really bad four weeks for me, and we came back to Valencia and almost won. It’s not that there’s something about the 1000 that doesn’t suit you? No, no, not at all. Just a couple of mishaps. Four in a row and it looks horrible, but I know I have the talent to run in the top five. It’s difficult at some points. Take Valentino for example. There’s rough times, and you just got to work to it and bounce back as quick as you can. Couple of weeks since Stoner shocked everyone by announcing his retirement. I don’t want to hasten your retirement but how do you see the end of your career? Honestly, right now what I’m thinking about is just tomorrow. That’s it. When I feel I don’t want to come to the track any more and I’m not having fun, then I’ll stop. Whether that’s in two years or five years I don’t know. Your contract’s up at the end of this year, like almost all riders. Have you been in touch with Honda yet? Have they rung you? (Laughs) Naaah. It’s too early in the season. Jorge needs to be the first one to make a decision Then obviously Valentino has an important role. If I ride to my ability and the bike’s ability then I should be here next year. But we need to get back on track because what I’ve done in the first four weekends doesn’t deserve a factory ride. CRT bikes are new this year. How do you find them? Are they dangerously slow? I don’t like criticising. They allowed them in the class. They’re doing the best they can; they’re already at a huge disadvantage being on that type of bike plus having to develop those bikes at the same time. Sure, the speed is quite severe down the straightaways, and I think we’ve seen the CRT teams get in the way of people. But it’s not their fault. They’re doing the best they can. I just think it is two different championships. We should be all the same. I think it’s good there are more bikes on the grid, but it’d be nicer if there were more factory bikes on the grid, or we could find some sort of balance. Well, they seem to want to slow the factory bikes down. How does that strike you? It just makes no sense to me when they say they want to slow the factory bikes but we’re going to a 1000cc bike. What are they trying to do? Are they too dangerous ... with top speeds like 345 k at Mugello? If they’re trying to slow ’em down they’re doing it wrong. I think the balance needs to be more with tyres, electronics, things like that. My opinion is if you want to see better racing you produce a tyre performance level that is 20 percent lower. Then the bikes can achieve that performance of the tyre much easier. That’s why Superbike racing is closer than this, because your tyre has a lower performance. All the bikes and all the riders can get to that level much easier. Then the rider makes the difference. Here the tyres are so good that whichever bike is working the best ... the rider obviously has to ride good but it’s more the set-up and the combination that is the best. That’s why Moto2 is so close too, because the level of the tyres is lower. Give them Bridgestones then you might see that the Kalex chassis or the Suter is much better, but tyres are limiting what they’re doing. How about cutting back on electronics? Yeah sure. There’s so much electronics. But it’s also 2012. What do you do? They’re trying to always make the electronics better for street bikes, for the consumer. So it’s very hard with the electronics to understand what to do. You were in at the start of the Rookies Rule, banning new riders from factory teams. Now they are talking about changing it. What do you think? If they made it, then don’t change it. I had a possibility to ride for a factory team. I know the thing now is about Marquez. But it still makes no difference anyway because when I rode for Tech 3 I was on a bike that was like two years old. When Marquez comes he’s going to be under the rookie rule and on a satellite team. But Honda will give him a full factory bike. So it’s not so much the rookie rule but what the rookie gets. If you were not a racer, what would you be? Somebody asked me a couple of weeks back if I’d ever had a real job. I said I was racing full-time since I was akidandturnedproat15,somyjobis motorcycle racing. When I was young I was quite good at baseball and basketball, more in baseball. I don’t think I would have been as good as in motorcycles, but I think a professional baseball player. Definitely sports. 5 MINUTES WITH BEN SPIES Double US and then World Superbike Champion, Ben Spies won his f irst GP last year, his second in MotoGP, but has had a nightmare start to the f irst four races. MICHAEL SCOTT spoke to him on the eve of the f ifth, in Catalunya 5 MINUTES 23 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: