It's not what's changing, but what's staying the same that could play a pivotal role in the forthcoming MotoGP season for Ben Spies.
Ever since leaving America as a triple AMA Superbike champion in 2008, Spies has previously switched teams at the end of each season.
After winning the World Superbike title at his first attempt in 2009, Spies moved to MotoGP with Tech 3 Yamaha for 2010 - meaning three different championships in as many years.
A further team change occurred for 2011, when Spies graduated to the Factory Yamaha team, taking over the seat vacated by Valentino Rossi. Most of Rossi's mechanics also moved with him to Ducati.
Supported by the new crew, Spies took a first MotoGP win in runaway style at Assen and finished fifth in the championship, one place higher than 2010, with four podiums. But it was an up-and-down season, literally at times.
Staying alongside former champion Jorge Lorenzo at the Factory Yamaha squad for 2012, Spies is relishing some team stability as he seeks to put last year 'behind him' and fight consistently for wins with the new Superbike-sized 1000cc prototypes.
“Ever since I left America I've been on a completely different team every year,” Spies told Crash.net
. “And even though we rode the Yamaha GP bike from Tech 3 to the Factory, it was a different bike and different team.
“So it's refreshing to see the same faces and know how the whole gig works this year. It's about getting into a comfort zone and that's why we had a lot of success in the AMA. I think it's going to be a lot better year this year.
“We showed some good potential last year, but we also had some moments where I kinda screwed up and then just some bad luck that was beyond our control. Those types of years happen to everyone.
“But this year we're in the same place, everything feels more natural and the bike seems like it's going to be a good package. I'm much happier going into this year and looking forward to putting last year behind us.”
Spies finished the first test of 2012, at Sepang, in fourth place. His best lap time was 0.888sec behind Honda's Casey Stoner, but only 0.297sec slower than second place Lorenzo.