Ben Spies has done his best to play down his chances of 2010 MotoGP success, but the Texan's ever improving results have made the task of containing expectation all but impossible.
Last Thursday, on the eve of his first ride on the Yamaha M1, Spies said that it would take a miracle for him to finish anywhere near the podium during 2010.
But just five days later the rookie World Superbike champion set the fourth fastest lap time at the Valencia test, out of a 'full' field of 16 riders.
The Texan's march up the timesheets has been remarkable. Just 15th after Friday practice, Spies advanced to 12th on Saturday morning, ninth in qualifying and sixth in Sunday morning warm-up.
Spies then rode to seventh place on his M1 race debut (and fourth MotoGP start), before rising back to sixth on Monday's opening day of post-season testing, also his first day at Monster Yamaha Tech 3.
The triple AMA Superbike champion then hit a new MotoGP high with fourth on Tuesday - behind only factory Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo (1.0sec ahead), factory Ducati rider Casey Stoner (0.746sec) and Yamaha's seven time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi (0.413sec).
The only possible 'negative' was that the gap from Spies to first grew from 0.836sec on Monday to 1.002sec on Tuesday, but with the three riders ahead of him all using prototype 2010 bikes - and Spies setting his best lap on worn tyres - the 25-year-old heads for the winter break a happy man.
“I'm really happy with this test. My performance in the race surpassed my expectations and so did the test,” said Spies, who rode for 50 laps on Monday and 61 laps on Tuesday. “I didn't touch the set-up of the bike again and continued mainly working on adapting my style. I feel like I made a lot of progress.
“My data guy could see on the computer that I was riding with more of a MotoGP style and each day I've made steps and gained confidence with the tyres. At the end I put on some tyres that had half race distance on them, but I was still able to lap half-a-second faster than yesterday. And where I was running 34'1s in the race I could get into low 33s consistently today.
“I've been making small steps but I'm a lot closer to the front than the back, so that is a good sign. I've enjoyed working with my new guys at Monster Yamaha Tech 3. It has been a tough year but a great year for me and I'm looking forward to the winter, training hard and being ready to go again in February,” he concluded.
Like the factory Yamaha team, Tech 3 will not test on Wednesday morning and Spies will now have to wait until the first test of 2010, at Sepang in Malaysia, before he gets back on a MotoGP bike.
Team-mate Colin Edwards missed day two due to sickness.