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.