Ben Spies looking to close gap to Honda

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Ben Spies has targeted a closer challenge to Honda's early season dominance ahead of the second round of the 2011 MotoGP world championship in Jerez this weekend.

The Texan finished the season's opening race in Qatar in sixth position but an expected rostrum challenge never materialised from the 26-year-old.

The first race at the Losail International Circuit earlier this month proved that Honda has a clear top speed advantage over Yamaha.

But Spies is confident future developments will bring the new 2011 YZR-M1 closer to the performance of the RC212V, which also features a new seamless shift gearbox that has been hailed as a major breakthrough by some onlookers.

The 2009 World Superbike champion said: "I've no clue what they (Honda) are doing but there is definitely some different stuff in the gearbox that they are working on and Casey has talked about. I've not been behind them enough to know but it seems like where they are under power and making gear changes they've made an improvement. They've got some top speed on us but Yamaha and Jorge (Lorenzo) crushed it last year and hopefully we'll catch up. With the way this class is, it is a prototype class and there can be a manufacturer that crushes it for two or three weekends or struggles really bad. It looks like Honda has got their stuff together right now and they are doing a good job. That's not to say we can't turn it around and be right there. There is no panic at all but we know we can improve. We need to need to improve and we know that will happen."

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt