Ben Spies took yet another step towards the front of the MotoGP field with sixth place during his debut appearance for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team on Monday.
Less than 24 hours after finishing seventh on his Yamaha debut as a wild-card in the season-ending Valencian Grand Prix, Spies joined the continuing 2009 riders - and fellow 2010 newcomers - for the start of the first post-season test.
Taking over the M1 previously occupied by James Toseland, Spies and crew chief Tom Houseworth began assimilating themselves into Herve Poncharal's team. On track, the World Superbike champion opted to work more on refining his riding style than making set-up alterations.
The 25-year-old completed 50 laps with a best time of 1min 33.496sec. The American was 0.836sec behind fastest man Casey Stoner (Ducati), but 0.519sec under than his best race lap and 0.433sec quicker than team-mate Colin Edwards.
“I am really happy to finally make my debut for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team. They are a great team and it feels good to finally get to work with them,” said Spies. “Today I was obviously on a different bike but with the same setting that I raced on and it felt good. I improved on my qualifying time so it was a positive and productive day.
“I really just focused on doing a couple of things different with my style and in the last two sessions I tried to do some things very different and it worked. I was slowly able to chip away at the lap times, so it is encouraging that I'm getting faster and more comfortable without even making any changes to the set-up of the bike.
“We'll make some changes to the bike tomorrow, more for me to see what I can feel, than looking for big improvements,” he added.
Fresh from fourth place in Sunday's race, which secured fifth overall in the world champion, Edwards completed a short stint of 35 laps while experimenting with wheelbase and front-end settings.
“First of all I want to welcome Ben to the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team, or should that be Team Texas,” said Edwards. “He's joined a fantastic squad and we already love him here because his brilliant Yamaha debut in the race helped me get fifth in the world championship. Personally I'm really excited about working with him in 2010 because he's a talented rider, and I'm sure we'll be motivating each other a lot.
“I didn't too many laps today and all I did was work on the wheelbase and some different front-end geometry. The bike felt good and we definitely learned a couple of things by making the bike longer. I've got a couple of other things to check on the bike tomorrow and then it will off for a hard earned winter break.”