Ben Spies admits he needs to now be 'perfect' if he is to catch Noriyuki Haga and win the World Superbike Championship in his rookie season.
With four Superpoles and four wins under his belt, including a dramatic last gasp triumph over arch-rival Haga at Assen, Spies has shown he has the pace to beat his nemesis in a straight fight.
However, three other failures to score at Phillip Island, Valencia and Assen have pushed Spies onto the back foot and moved him some 60 points behind Haga after eight races.
By way of reference, in recent years only Neil Hodgson in 2003 and Troy Bayliss in 2008 had larger margins over the second place rider at this point in the season and both went on to take a dominant title.
Still, Spies can take heart from the fact that fellow American Colin Edwards managed to break down a gap of 58 points at its height in beating Bayliss to the 2002 title.
“This is not how I like to run championships,” Spies admitted. “I've had three no points races and basically now it's coming down to I have to be perfect now and do nothing but win races to catch up in the championship.
Despite admitting the difficult of the extent of the task ahead, Spies is nonetheless proud of his performances as a WSBK rookie.
“Regardless of the hit we took today I'm still proud of the team and the way I've ridden as a rookie in this series. I still want to try to win this championship, but it's going to be tough. I've come back from big deficits before and that's what I'm going to have to do again. It's gotten pretty interesting pretty quickly.”