Expectations are high for Ben Spies during his third MotoGP season, which begins under the floodlights in Qatar this weekend.
The Texan claimed his first race win on the way to fifth in the championship last year, but was rarely about to match the form of team-mate Jorge Lorenzo on the final incarnation of Yamaha's 800cc M1.
But this year's 1000cc machines are a more natural fit for the former AMA and World Superbike champion, who has been ahead of former MotoGP champion Lorenzo during three of the nine days of pre-season testing.
Spies will surely be content with nothing less than a podium finish on Sunday.
“Finally! I think testing can get a bit dull after a while so I'm happy we now get to go and do some racing at last,” said Spies. “We've worked really hard over the winter; the Yamaha Engineers have done a great job so we've got a pretty good bike to race with at the weekend.
“Let's get out there on Thursday and start finding a set up and see how it feels. It's always special to race at night under the lights, we're going to give it 100% and put on a good show!”
“Ben has always been strong at Qatar, also in World Superbike. The Losail circuit layout is very suitable for our bike characteristics so we should do well!” added team director Massimo Meregalli.
Spies finished sixth on his factory Yamaha debut at Qatar last season.