Ben Spies declared himself "super happy" after he ended an impressive Yamaha MotoGP debut in seventh place in Valencia yesterday.
The Texan produced one of the most eye-catching performances of a rather dull 30-lap race to surge through from 12th to seventh on the Sterilgarda YZR-M1.
The reigning World Superbike champion came out on top in a thrilling battle involving Andrea Dovizioso, Mika Kallio, Alex de Angelis and Randy de Puniet and he comfortably beat departing British rider James Toseland.
The 25-year-old said: "I feel like I rode good today but I'm still 35 seconds behind the podium. This weekend went better than I expected but even if I was 12th or 15th, I'd have been more interested in looking at the lap times at the end of the race.
"It wasn't bad and I didn't have crazy fast laps but I turned my best lap on the last lap. It was a steady race. I got a better start than I thought and going into Turn One I was like 'oh crap, I got a good start' and now I' kind of in the mix.
" didn' want to do anything too crazy on the tyres because my feeling isn' comfortable in the first few laps and that will come with time on the bike. I got pushed around a little bit and once I got settled I came through that pack. This track is not easy to pass on and the passes are quite different than on a superbike. I was learning that too and it was a good race.
"But I know how far away from the podium we were. I'm still light years away from being at the front but all I can ask is that every time I get on the bike I made steady improvement."
Spies said he had learned a lot from being involved in such a frantic fight for seventh. He added: "It was good experience. I felt at the start I was getting held up a bit and a few laps in I felt I was just hanging on. Then a few laps in I caught back up and de Puniet had a couple of moments.
"It took me a while to get past de Angelis because he is really strong on the brakes. Once I got round him we caught Dovi and got by him. I think I had the pace to run with Elias and Nicky f we had got away with them.
"I'm not going to come in and win a race so there was no point in doing anything stupid just to get one more place."
Spies said he was satisfied with his first MotoGP appearance in 14 months but he admitted he had a huge amount of work to challenge the likes of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo.
Spies said: "Coming and racing against these boys I was ready for a reality check and that's what I got. I'm seventh and that's obviously not a result I'm used to looking at but it is going to be hard to move up from that. I just went about my own business and I definitely exceeded my expectations. But now I'm super happy."