Yamaha described stand-in rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga's surprise Valencia podium as a deserved boost for Ben Spies' crew at the end of a difficult MotoGP season for the team working on Yamaha's second bike.
Nakasuga's result in the wild season finale was the first time the crew had achieved a podium all year, as Spies had endured a fraught and luckless campaign even before being sidelined by an injury sustained at Sepang.
With Spies' shoulder damage requiring surgery, test rider Nakasuga was brought in for the final round. He only qualified 16th, but starting on slick tires paid off and he grabbed second when Cal Crutchlow crashed out. Yamaha team director Massimo Meregalli praised Nakasuga for buoying the crew working on what is usually Spies' No. 11 bike.
"For Nakasuga-san it has been a fairytale day, we are so happy for him and proud of his achievement," said Meregalli. "After a difficult season it was also a great result for Ben's crew who deserved this podium today. I would like to wish them all the best for the future."
Spies, who will race for Ducati's revamped second team in 2013, also lauded Nakasuga.
"Obviously wish it was me but great job to my crew and Nakasuga," the American wrote on Twitter. "It was all about survival today!"
Nakasuga described his result as a "miracle". Had he not finished on the podium, it would have been the first time since 1985 that a grand prix season had passed without a Japanese podium in any class.
"It was a tough race but the team were amazing and I have to thank them for making the best choice for my set-up for the race," said Nakasuga. "It is like a dream or a miracle for me to be on the podium as the qualifying was not so good.
"I want to thank Yamaha for giving me this special opportunity to race here in MotoGP, it has been amazing."