MotoGP world champion Jorge Lorenzo is expecting new factory Yamaha team-mate Ben Spies to pose a major threat in the 2011 premier class series.
Spies will join the 23-year-old next year after the Texan enjoyed a fantastic rookie campaign in MotoGP last season.
Riding for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad, Spies romped to the coveted Rookie of the Year title and a series of impressive performances saw him finish leading non-factory rider in 2010 too.
Spies was on the podium at Silverstone and Indianapolis and he impressed on his factory Yamaha debut at last month’s Valencia test.
The 26-year-old, who stormed to the 2009 World Superbike crown with a record 14 wins, ended the Valencia session with the third fastest time.
And Lorenzo said he expects the 26-year-old to feature even more prominently next season. He said: “He did very well last season. He got some podiums with a satellite bike and that is not so easy.
"For sure next year he will be fighting to win some races. But for the championship, maybe it is still too early because the level now is incredibly high.”
The Spaniard dominated last season with nine victories and an incredible 16 podium finishes helping him set a new points record for the MotoGP class with 383 See the December 8 issue of MCN for an exclusive interview with Lorenzo.