MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo believes his new Yamaha teammate Ben Spies will be a title threat from the outset as he steps up to the factory team for 2011.
Spies is only in his second year of MotoGP, having won the World Superbike crown at the first attempt in 2009 and then taking sixth in the 2010 standings with the satellite Tech 3 Yamaha team. Asked what he expected from Spies this year, Lorenzo replied: "I think Ben is going to fight for the championship. He is very fast and has already shown he can fight to the front of the pack and was the best satellite rider last year."
But the American did not share his teammate's confidence, with Spies saying he would settle for taking his first wins this season.
"You can't just jump in and say we're going for the championship this year, it's still early and it's only our second season," Spies insisted. "We finished sixth at the end of 2010; I always want to do better every year I race so I want to finish inside the top five this year. Realistically my aim is to battle for wins and podiums."
Lorenzo added that he was already enjoying a very harmonious relationship with Spies, after a tense time with his predecessor Valentino Rossi.
"Ben is a friendly guy, he is serious on the track like me but we have no problems between each other and I don't think we will have in the future either," said Lorenzo. "Our situation is very strong as we are two very fast riders. I think the way we are on track and the way we are away from the track are very different. It's good for us to have a great relationship, not just for us but to help Yamaha to develop the bike."