Ben Spies looked set to put his early season blues well and truly behind him as he stalked Dani Pedrosa for the early race lead in Catalunya on Sunday.

The Factory Yamaha star, who has suffered a string of race day problems this year, had shot from fourth to second at the start and was glued to the Spaniard's rear wheel thereafter.

But it all ended in disaster when the Texan made his move for the lead on lap 3.

Spies made the pass on Pedrosa cleanly enough, but ran wide and then fell when his front wheel clipped the grass on the edge of the racetrack.

He rejoined 21st and last, then pushed hard to reach tenth place at the chequered flag.

"I'm more disappointed for the team than for me because I felt good with the bike and we definitely had a bike to be on the podium today. I just made one mistake in the race and blew our chance," said Spies.

"We were going good in the beginning but I was getting impatient with Dani. He was holding me up but I couldn't make the pass on the straight so I had to go for it on the brakes and unfortunately got out onto the edge of the track.

"I got up and we got back into it and our pace was pretty good, unfortunately it was too late to get back to the front."

Team director Massimo Meregalli was at least pleased that Spies was able to get some confidence back by running up front.

"Ben had a really good start and an impressive first two laps showing good feeling and fighting spirit. Unfortunately the crash happened but it was very important for us to see that his confidence was back."

Spies remains 11th place in the standings, which are led by his team-mate and Catalunya winner Jorge Lorenzo.