Ben Spies' British MotoGP race followed almost the exact opposite format of winning Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.

While Lorenzo struggled for pace in the early laps, Spies rocketed from his first front row start of the year to take the lead at turn one, where he remained for the opening four laps.

But then, in a situation that sounds very similar to problems suffered by runner-up Casey Stoner, the Texan suffered a big drop in rear tyre performance.

Lorenzo moved from fifth to first by lap 11 of 20, by which time Spies had dropped from first to fifth, where he remained.

"Today was a bitter sweet day, we made a good start and had a really good pace in the beginning," confirmed Spies. "After four or five laps we had a big problem with the rear tyre and lost all our momentum and pace. It turned into damage control after that.

"From the start of the season to now, top five is a better result. The potential of the bike was great today and we could have been fighting for the podium or the win with Jorge."

Spies' lap time had gone from a best of 2m 2.909s (lap 3) to a 2m 5.861s by lap 18.

For comparison, Lorenzo - whose best lap was just 0.021s quicker than Spies - set a 2m 3.815s on lap 18. Both M1 riders chose the same tyre compounds.

Yamaha team director Massimo Meregalli said the team is investigating what happened.

"Ben made a really great start and led the race for a few laps. Then unfortunately he had quite a huge drop with the rear tyre and he couldn't keep the same pace. We will now check the reason why we had this issue," he said.

Despite the problems, fifth was Spies' best result of the year so far.

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