Ben Spies has pronounced himself happy as he completed his first official World Superbike test outing on the Yamaha, the American raising plenty of eyebrows with his impressive early pace.
The multiple AMA Superbike Champion got a chance to sample Noriyuki Haga's seven-time winning '08-specification bike, as well as the new 'uneven firing' Yamaha R1, over the course of the day alongside team-mate Tom Sykes.
His first time on the bike, not to mention his debut outing around the Portimao circuit in Portugal, Spies certainly surprised onlookers with his lap times as he pumped in a best of 1min 44secs aboard the '08 Yamaha.
To put into context, double Portimao race winner Troy Bayliss managed a best of 1min 43.7secs at the weekend, while Haga was a further two tenths adrift of the outgoing champion. Furthermore, reports suggest the track conditions weren't as optimum as they were over the race weekend.
Naturally, Spies was delighted with his competitive showing, although he admits he is unable to share much about the new Yamaha R1 until next year.
“I got a bit of time on both the '08 and '09 models,” he said. “Both bikes were good. The new bike… well I'm under orders not to say too much about it. But I can say that the sound from it is pretty amazing. It sounds a lot like Yamaha's M1 MotoGP bike.”
In the meantime, Spies will busy himself by acquainting himself with the Yamaha Italia team, as well as Italy itself when he moves there.
“There's a lot to do this winter,” Spies admitted. “I'm going to Italy to look at properties to rent. I'll also spend a lot of time at Yamaha's racing shop to get to know everyone. I haven't even looked at the testing schedule yet, but I'm sure that's going to keep me busy as well.
“I'm also going to step up my training to even higher levels. That's what it's going to take to be able to come out here and be competitive in World Superbike.”