Ben Spies came close to tangling with 2011 factory Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo in the first few turns of Sunday's Australian Grand Prix.

Starting from the front row, Spies passed Lorenzo for second into turn one but ran a little wide and their paths crossed on the exit.

"Jorge and I got super close coming out of the first corner and he almost touched my brake lever. It made me run wide in turn two and a couple of people came by. It didn't ruin the race but it ruined me building up some momentum," said Spies.

Nevertheless, Spies ran as high as third from laps 5-7 of 27, before a mistake heavy braking for the fast first turn dropped him back to sixth.

"I got in there a bit hot and the rear came round. Everybody got a run on me and came by and dropped me back to sixth," he said.

The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider spent the rest of the race fighting fellow rookie Marco Simoncelli. He broke free from the Italian in the closing stages to claim fifth place.

"I had a good battle with Simoncelli. I kind of towed him around and he picked up his pace and came by me," said the 2009 WSBK champion. "Once I knew nobody was behind me, I just waited until a few laps from the end to push and pass him back.

"I made sure I got a decent gap and chilled out in fifth. At the end I was running times that if everything had gone smoothly, I feel like we could have battled for the podium. Towards the end of the race I was running similar times to those ahead of me and that's all I can do."

With a 61 point lead over next-best newcomer Simoncelli, and only two rounds to go, Spies secured the 2010 Rookie of the Year title on Sunday.

Spies is the only rookie, and satellite rider, to take a pole (1) or podium (2) this year.

"I'm happy to be Rookie of the Year," he said. "I beat a lot of good guys for that and it will be an achievement I can be proud of at the end of the season. I've had some good results on this three-week stretch and I'm now looking forward to the last two rounds."

Spies' rivals in the 2010 Rookie contest were Simoncelli, Hector Barbera, Alvaro Bautista, Aleix Espargaro and Hiroshi Aoyama.

All except Espargaro have won 125 and/or 250cc grands prix, while Simoncelli, Bautista and Aoyama were also world champions in the lower grand prix classes.

"Ben's amazing season just gets better and better," said team manager Herve Poncharal, "To win the Rookie of the Year title with two races to go is a fantastic achievement for him and all of his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew.

"A lot of very talented riders came from the 250cc class into MotoGP this year and they knew all the tracks, which Ben didn't. He's done a magnificent job and done it with another impressive top five finish.

"Simoncelli never gave up but Ben was too strong for him and showed how strong he is on used tyres. Without a couple of problems in the early laps, I think he could have battled with Valentino and Nicky for the podium."

"Congratulations to Ben for getting Rookie of the Year. He's rode awesome all year and he's beaten a lot of good guys to achieve that," added team-mate Colin Edwards, who finished seventh on Sunday.

Tech 3 will aim to retain the Rookie title with Cal Crutchlow next season.

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