Valencia MotoGP: Ben Spies: 2010 podium ‘a miracle’

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American Ben Spies reckons it would be a miracle if he claimed a podium in his first full MotoGP world championship campaign in 2010.

Preparing for his Yamaha YZR-M1 debut in this weekend’s Valencia GP in Spain, Spies conceded he is facing the toughest challenge of his career.

The reigning World Superbike champion, who won a thrilling final round shootout with Ducati’s Noriyuki Haga in Portimao last month, said: “In World Superbikes, the goal every time I turned up to a race was to win.

“If I saw a podium next year it will be a miracle. Next year is a learning year and all about trying not to make too many mistakes.

“I know a superbike riding style won’t work too well in MotoGP but it is hard to talk about my expectations right now.

“I’ve got more learning to do than ever before in my career. It is a different world in MotoGP and I’ve got to start from scratch, keep building and hopefully get there some day.“

Spies’ Valencia wild card ride will be his fourth appearance in MotoGP having raced three times on board a factory Suzuki GSV-R last season.

And he said that previous experience would be of some benefit ahead of Sunday’s race.

He added: “I know what to expect and I know how fast these guys are. A lot of people don’t understand how quick they are but I do because I’ve raced them.

“It is hard to expect anything from me in my first race for Yamaha but I can only try and learn and make small steps.

“A superbike and a MotoGP bike are two different worlds and I just need to be on one as much as I can and start the process of learning how to ride one.”

Spies confirmed he had pushed Yamaha to race in Valencia to give him precious more time on the YZR-M1 he will campaign alongside Colin Edwards in the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad next season.

With testing limited to only six days in 2010, Spies said: “It is going to be good and just being able to sit with these guys is a step up for me.

“This is the last step and now it is just a case of how good we can do. When I made the decision about a month ago to come to MotoGP I told them it would be good to have a wild card with the lack of testing.

“Now it is three more days on the bike. This is a different level and I know that to do what I did in World Superbikes is impossible.

“I just need to work on making the changes as a rider so that I can compete and get better. It is a big learning curve but I’ve got to try.

“There is enormous interest in how Spies will get on, given the lack of success enjoyed by previous World Superbike champions in the premier class.

But the Texan said he was relishing the challenge and said: “I had a great year in World Superbikes and just to get in MotoGP is difficult, let alone finish in the top or top five and win races.

“A lot of people don’t understand how fast the pace is. It is something I want to try.

“I’m at the right age to learn but it is going to be tough. All I can do is try and see if I can do it.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt