Ben Spies put a difficult start to 2011 behind him in Catalunya as the factory Yamaha rider claimed his first MotoGP podium since last August.
Two sixth places in the opening four races had left the Texan languishing outside the top ten in the points rankings.
But he survived intense pressure from Italia Andrea Dovizioso to finish yesterday’s 25-lap race in third, securing his first podium since his home round in Indianapolis nearly ten months ago.
Spies, who had crashed out of two races so far this season, said he was relieved to have broken his podium duck, though he never looked like threatening team-mate Jorge Lorenzo in second place.
The 2010 Rookie of the Year said: “It wasn’t really a lonely ride because Andrea like normal was 0.8s behind me for the whole race and he was like a little mosquito at a barbecue, he just wouldn’t go away. It didn’t matter what time I did he always did the same time with the exact same pressure. I got a really good start but for the first couple of laps I was a little bit wary.
"We made a change to the front forks that we haven’t used all weekend and it was a bit of a risk but we thought could make it better and we did. But I was a little uncomfortable for the first four laps. Once we go the pace going I was doing good times but we lost touch to Jorge and Casey (Stoner). And then I just rode as hard and consistent as I could without making any mistakes because I knew Dovi was behind me and Valentino (Rossi) was right behind him.
"I needed to keep the laps strong but it was good for my confidence and good for the team too after Estoril and everything that happened. I feel like I did a good race for them and we need to take this to the next few races coming up. We’ve got Silverstone coming up and I’m looking forward to that. It’s going to be good and I’m hoping the bad luck and the worst tracks are out of the way and we just use this momentum to keep going.”
For full coverage of the Catalunya MotoGP round and a 24-page guide to the Silverstone race, see Wednesday’s (June 8) MCN.