Ben Spies says he’s confident in the potential of the 2011 factory Yamaha YZR-M1 machine after he started the new season with a low-key sixth place in Qatar.
Despite a pre-race declaration that he’d be upset with a result out of the top five, the Texan was satisfied with his sixth at the Losail International Circuit after a long fight with nine-times world champion Valentino Rossi.
And Spies said he believed Yamaha had a competitive package for most tracks, despite the domination of the opening round by Honda and Casey Stoner.
Stoner fended off a fantastic fight from reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo though the Spaniard repeated his demands for Yamaha to improve rear grip and engine power with the new YZR-M1 machine.
Spies agrees and he told MCN: “As a rider you always want more traction and more power and we could use both. We won’t know how much for a couple of races. I’m not going to write myself off yet.
"By the third race of the season everybody will know what needs to happen and what gains need to be made. We work with what we got. All you can compare is Jorge with those guys last year and everybody knows how fast he is and its not like he’s got any slower.
"We might have to work round some problems but the overall package is good. We know the balance of the bike is good and we’re not going to have a big problem.”
Spies reckons the major strength of the Yamaha in 2011 will be its ability to work at a range of different tracks in different conditions.
Lorenzo only finished off the podium twice last season and his worst result was two fourth places at the Motorland Aragon and Twin Ring Motegi.
Both times he only lost third place on the final lap and Spies added: “Last year we saw the Yamaha worked well at every track. It didn’t really have one strong track, whereas the Honda was very strong at certain tracks and not others and the Ducati worked the same way.
"I think it is the same thing this year, though Honda looks to have solved some of the consistency with their bike. I think consistency is still the strong point of the Yamaha.”