Ben Spies can afford to feel confident ahead of his much anticipated switch to the factory Yamaha team in 2011 after posting a fine fourth place finish in his final outing for the Tech 3 team in Spain.
Consolidating his status as the year's top rookie rider, Spies's run to fourth – which came after charging up the order from seventh during the final portion of the race – also gave him the added joy of being classified as the top American rider ahead of Nicky Hayden.
Coming twelve months after he swept to title victory in the World Superbike Championship, Spies has all but silenced those that questioned his chances on MotoGP machinery thanks to a scorecard that saw him challenging for top five results in nearly each event.
Ending the year sixth in the standings, Spies will now follow in the hallowed footsteps of Valentino Rossi at factory Yamaha, a challenge he is most looking forward to.
“I'm patting myself and my Monster Yamaha Tech3 crew on the back because to get sixth overall in the points is a great achievement for all of us,” he said. “It was a good race and once I settled I could see the three Hondas coming back to me quite quickly. I kept them about a second in front of me and pounced when I felt confident I could pass them and pull away.
“They had some acceleration on me off the turns, so I knew when I made the pass it needed to be into a string of corners and not onto a straight. Once I passed Andrea [Dovizioso] and Marco [Simoncelli} I put my head down for a couple of laps and got rid of them. To finish fourth after last week's crash in Estoril is the perfect finish to what has been a great season.
“I said at the beginning of the season that a top five feels like a win and now this feels more like a normal result. I've had a better year than I thought I would have, so thanks to my team and all the people around me who have given me unbelievable support. I've learned a lot this season and I'm confident I will be even stronger in 2011.”