Ben Spies put the disappointment of two consecutive non-finishes behind him with a solid seventh place at Mugello on Sunday, having shadowed the three-way fight for fourth for much of the race.
“The goal was top ten, so to be seventh I'm pretty happy with, especially leaving here with solid points after the disappointment of the last two races,” said the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider. “I got a great start and felt like I rode as hard as I could and didn't make too many mistakes but I just couldn't quite get up close to the battle in front of me and that was a little frustrating.
“I found myself right on the tail of that pack with Randy, Marco and Casey but I wasn't going to be able to pass them on the straight. I just tried to stay as close as I could for as long as I could in case something happened with them but everybody kept it upright. I was just hoping that the pack was going to break open and I could pick one of them off but they stayed together.
“It was a good race and what I needed to build my confidence and experience and now I'm looking forward to Silverstone. That's a level playing field with nobody knowing the track, so I'll have less of a disadvantage."
But whilst Spies enjoyed a strong showing, team-mate Colin Edwards sunk from fifth on the grid to 13th at the flag after with what the team worrying termed - given Casey Stoner's 2009 problems - as 'a mystery fatigue issue', which first appeared in morning warm-up.
“I'm really disappointed and a bit mystified because I've felt good all weekend and we got the bike working really well again after we switched back to the setting we had at Mugello last year,” said Edwards. “But it was a struggle from the off and I didn't feel great at all.
“The bike was working well. It goes round the corner good, it brakes good and has good traction but I can't ride in that condition. I felt fatigued really early in the race and was really struggling to change direction with the bike. And at this track you have got a lot of fast changes of direction that are crucial to help you flow and set good times.
“I've had a bit of an arm pump issue all weekend for the first time in my career and needed quite a few injections to ease that. But I was way below my best physical condition and not just because of that. All I can do is apologise to Monster Yamaha Tech 3 and I wish I knew what was going on. I'll try and figure it out and be ready to come out fighting strong in Silverstone.”
Spies and Edwards are likely to be in with a shot at temporarily replacing Valentino Rossi at the factory Fiat Yamaha team.