Ben Spies has hailed the two podiums during his maiden MotoGP season as being up there with his World Superbike title victory, claiming they were well beyond his pre-season expectations.

The American underlined his potential as a future MotoGP star by putting in a series of strong performances on the satellite Tech 3 Yamaha, Spies claiming a maiden podium at Silverstone before scoring a popular pole position and second place finish at Indianapolis.

Urging him on to sixth position in the overall standings, while some had predicted Spies would challenge for wins at times in 2010, the man himself plays down the weight of expectation, insisting he was merely hoping to break into the top five.

"We were the top satellite bike, but I honestly didn't think we'd see the podium this year," he told the MotoPod podcast website. "If we were going to get a few top fives, then I would have been happy. At the end of the season I look at who is around me and behind me. The guys in front of me, you know their credentials, but me and Nicky battled it out at the final race, and he has a world title.

"We finished on the podium twice and at Indy I beat both of the factory bikes, but if anyone honestly expected me to win in my first year, they are a little crazy. To learn half the tracks, be on a satellite bike and to win in the first year, I don't think anyone can really do that. It wasn't on my agenda.

"The finishing on the podium part was up there with winning a World Superbike title for me."

Spies, who has been rewarded with a full factory Yamaha ride in 2011 as the replacement for Valentino Rossi, was also pleased to be pairing up with Jorge Lorenzo, claiming he is the ideal candidate to learn from.

"We get along as well as any team-mates can in MotoGP. He [Lorenzo] is a great rider, the world champion and is the fastest person on two wheels at the moment. I'm moving to the factory team, which I'm excited about, and I'm excited about being team-mates with him.

"Hopefully I can learn something because the young breed always does something new and different. A lot of people wouldn't want to be team-mates with him because he is so fast, but I am really happy about it. As far as me and him getting along, if I had to pick a team-mate besides Colin [Edwards], it would be him."

Lorenzo recently told Crash.net that he is looking forward to having Spies as a team-mate having endured an occasionally fractious relationship with Rossi.

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