Ben Spies is targeting nothing less than his first MotoGP race victory next season, when the 2010 Rookie of the Year will step up to the factory Yamaha team.
"To do what I haven't done before and win a race," Cycle News
quotes Spies as saying during a recent visit to the Long Beach Motorcycle Show, when asked about his main goal for next year.
“We're definitely not the person that everybody is looking at right out of the gate, but we'll try and sneak up there.
“This is the first year for me in a few years where I won't be the young kid, the rookie or the new guy learning tracks... I don't have any excuses next year so we need to step up for sure."
Spies, who said his personal 2010 highlight was pole in front of his home fans at Indianapolis, unsurprisingly picked world champion and new team-mate Jorge Lorenzo as the man to beat.
"The most dangerous guy for next year is definitely Jorge,” Spies said. “He's on a great bike as we know. He's got a lot of good things about him as a rider. When he had to step up this year, he stepped up. When he had to back off, he knew when to back off.
“I think him, Casey [Stoner] will be fast and Valentino [Rossi] has a lot of work to do with the Ducati, but he's one guy I'm not putting money against. There's 16 or 17 guys who are fast out there, but I would say Jorge for sure. He's the one with the bullseye on his back."
Spies, the 2009 World Superbike champion, identified early race laps as his main area of weakness this year.
"We need to be better in the first laps - just trust the tyres more,” he explained. “It's something I have to work on as a rider and I'm not afraid to admit it. We've been good in the middle of the race and at the end, but it doesn't hack it when you're 10 seconds back on lap 20. I just need to trust more and get more confidence and experience... I think that's the key to it."
Looking further ahead, 2012 will see MotoGP switch from 800 to 1000cc engines, a capacity Spies is more than familiar with from Superbike competition.
"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "The way I ride, the way I like the bikes to work, I like bigger ccs and it's a different riding style for sure. I think it's good for the series, good for the fans.
“I think I will benefit from it more than some riders, but then there are some riders who will hit the ground running. Some of the manufacturers might start out ahead and I'm hoping Yamaha is working on [the 1000cc] right now. I look forward to it... from the fans [point of view] to riding it, to everything."
Spies finished sixth in the 2010 MotoGP World Championship, with two podiums for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team. His place at Tech 3 will be taken by British rider Cal Crutchlow next season.
Both of Yamaha's factory MotoGP riders have won races every season since 2008.