2011 MotoGP rookie Cal Crutchlow has paid tribute to his predecessor Ben Spies for the 'phenomenal' performances the Texan has delivered over the past two years.
Spies won Yamaha's first ever World Superbike title during his rookie 2009 season, then scored two podiums, one pole and sixth in the championship after switching to MotoGP with Monster Yamaha Tech 3.
Experienced team-mate Colin Edwards was only eleventh in the standings and Spies was quickly chosen to replace the departing Valentino Rossi at the factory Yamaha team for 2011.
Crutchlow has followed in the wheel tracks of Spies for each of the past two years. The Englishman graduated to Yamaha's factory WSBK team as the reigning World Supersport champion in 2010, and is now taking over the second M1 seat at Tech 3.
Prior to Spies, the last time a MotoGP rookie scored two or more podiums was Jorge Lorenzo in 2008 (six podiums). Lorenzo had moved straight into a factory team (Yamaha), something that is no longer allowed (except for Suzuki).
The last time a rookie, riding for a satellite team, scored two MotoGP podiums was Daijiro Kato (Gresini Honda) in 2002 - although Andrea Dovizioso (JiR Scot Honda) did finish one place higher in the championship than Spies, with one podium and no poles, during 2008.
“If you put everything into perspective and look at Ben he is superior to really everyone else who has come into MotoGP in recent years,” said Crutchlow, speaking exclusively to Crash.net
“People will always compare me to Ben, because I moved into the Yamaha World Superbike team and then Tech 3, like he did.
“But he's been phenomenal over the last two years in World Superbike and grand prix. It was good for Ben to come in and do what he did, but I haven't really seen anybody else do that.
“That shows he's a one-off and it obviously takes other people more time,” added Crutchlow, who was the only Yamaha rider to win races in WSBK last year.