Yamaha has denied that Texan Ben Spies is under increasing pressure to improve his results as he goes in search of his first top six finish of a troubled 2012 world championship campaign in Catalunya this weekend.
Spies has been a major disappointment so far in a campaign where he was widely tipped to challenge top trio Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa for the world title.
But his second season in Yamaha’s factory team has been complicated to say the least and after four rounds of the new 1000cc era he has scored a best result of eighth.
Spies has been hampered by a combination of ill fortune out of his control, mistakes with the set-up of his YZR-M1, and unforced errors for sitting in a lowly 11th place in the current rankings.
Spies returns to one of only five tracks on the calendar where he has claimed a MotoGP podium at Catalunya this weekend, but Yamaha insist pressure isn’t mounting on the 2009 World Superbike champion.
While Spies has found form had to come by in 2012, Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso have flourished in the satellite Tech 3 squad.
Both are candidates to take the place of Spies if he doesn’t deliver in 2012 and the recent rain-lashed Le Mans race was the first time both have finished outside of the top five.
But Yamaha boss Massimo Meregalli told MCN: “The results haven’t hurt Ben’s confidence and he still believes he will be challenging for the podium in the next few races. I really think he can do it.
"He had a bad start to the season and it is not 100% his fault but I am really positive about the future races. I don’t think results have increased the pressure on Ben.
"The results haven’t been what we have been looking for but it is a bit too early to be talking about next year. We haven’t started talking about next year yet and maybe after Barcelona it will be the time to start talking about next year.”
And Meregalli said the first person aware that results need to improve quickly is Spies.
He added: “He knows that he has to improve the results, but that is not really something he needs to be told.”