Monster Yamaha Tech 3 boss Herve Poncharal believes Ben Spies has what it takes to break into the MotoGP big four - and tips the Texan to be a podium threat during a 'strong' 2010 rookie season in grand prix.

Overlooked after three rides with Suzuki in 2008, Spies jolted the premier-class paddock into action by winning Yamaha's first World Superbike Championship - at his very first attempt - in 2009.

Unsurprisingly, Yamaha moved quickly to retain Spies, the factory's sense of urgency illustrated by the initial announcement of a new two-year contract - without stating exactly which championship the 25-year-old would race in!

It was claimed that another year in WSBK was 'foreseen' before joining MotoGP, but the second Tech 3 seat alongside Colin Edwards remained open and few were surprised when it was confirmed that Spies would replace James Toseland for 2010.

Spies instantly repaid Yamaha's faith with seventh on his M1 debut as a wild-card at the Valencia finale, before setting the fourth fastest lap time during his Tech 3 debut at the post-race test.

Whilst admitting that praising Spies is an easy task, Poncharal also explained why he has high expectations for the triple AMA Superbike champion during 2010.

"I am going to push an open door when I tell you that Ben is an incredible rider, an incredible talent and that he will be a very, very strong MotoGP rider," Poncharal told Crash.net. "There is nothing new in me saying that. It has been said and written by many people before.

"But what I can also tell you is that I very much like his approach.

"Although Ben has a very big pedigree, he has a very humble attitude. He is listening to what people are saying. He wants to understand what needs to be done to go faster and, maybe most importantly of all, he doesn't want to adapt the bike to his riding style.

"Ben understands that a MotoGP bike is different to anything else he has ridden. It has very specific characteristics in terms of the chassis, engine and tyres. You have to ride this package in a MotoGP way.

"He is like a sponge. He is soaking up what everybody is telling him and I think that is the way to be successful. He has got access to Colin, Valentino and Jorge's data. He has full support from Yamaha and full access to Ohlins, Brembo and Bridgestone technicians. And he can rely fully on us, and Colin, to help him.

"Looking at him during the Valencia test - and of course the race weekend - I have a lot of confidence that he can be fast from the first race," predicted Poncharal. "2010 will be his rookie year, but that does not mean he should give up on getting strong results.

"So I expect a very strong challenge from Ben to Colin. We've had a few podiums with Colin and I'm sure Ben can look at 2010 with the possibility of a strong season and, potentially, some podiums."

Claiming a podium would mean defeating at least two of MotoGP's big four riders - Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa - who have won all but three races since the start of the 800cc era in 2007.

"I know that the top four are described as 'untouchable' or 'aliens', which is true at the moment," continued Poncharal. "But among the 2010 rookies there will be some people who will hopefully be able go with them, sooner or later, because we don't want to see four guys and then the rest.

"I believe that Ben is one of the new guys - not the only one - who can join the top club in MotoGP."

Spies is the fifth rider with a Superbike background to join Tech 3. As well as Edwards and Toseland, the team has also fielded ex-Superbike riders James Ellison and Makoto Tamada.

Spies will ride his 2010 Yamaha for the first time during testing at Sepang in Malaysia in early February.