Yamaha will not put any pressure on its World Superbike champion Ben Spies to immediately win in MotoGP, according to the firm's racing boss Lin Jarvis.
American rider Spies moves to MotoGP with Yamaha's satellite squad Tech 3 this year after taking the World Superbike crown at the first attempt in 2009. He has already made several wildcard appearances in MotoGP, and finished seventh in last year's season finale at Valencia in his first appearance on a Yamaha in the series. Although Spies won three of his first four World Superbike races, Jarvis said there was no expectation of similar early success in MotoGP.
"Ben has a learning year ahead of him," Jarvis said. "I think he is ready to enter into this class, but being ready and being ready to win are two different things.
"Ben will have one year to learn everything about the MotoGP world, there will be no pressure on him, certainly not from Yamaha's side."
Jarvis does not expect Spies to infiltrate the quartet of riders – Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa – who have dominated MotoGP in recent years.
"Ben will be in the top group, but I expect the top four will be one step ahead," he said. "I feel more the competition from Pedrosa or Stoner. I think we will see some exciting races [from Spies], there is no doubt that he has the capacity to fight even for the podium, but basically step-by-step a learning year."
With Rossi having hinted at a potential team switch when his Yamaha deal expires at the end of this season, Spies has been mooted as the multiple champion's successor in the factory team. But Jarvis said there was currently no plan in place to promote Spies.
"Ben has a two-year contract with Yamaha, so eventually in the 2012 season it is not yet determined in which team or program he will be in," said Jarvis. "Let's see, because this year the main issues in this sport will be the contractual negotiations for all of the four top riders because both Vale and Jorge's contracts expire at the end of 2010 and it is the same for Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa. So nobody knows what will happen exactly in 2011. Our ideal vision at the moment would be to retain Vale and Jorge in the factory team and obviously Ben in the Tech 3 team."
Still, he acknowledged that with Lorenzo and Spies already within Yamaha's line-up, the team had two extremely strong young riders on board and little need to look for new proteges.
"Sometimes we look to the future, as well as we did with Jorge Lorenzo: we took him very early and we signed the contract, having him with Yamaha when he was 21," Jarvis said. "At this moment we have four very talented riders in Yamaha, in fact we have three of the top five of the last season with us and with Ben joining we have four great riders. Two of them are in their thirties, with Colin [Edwards] being 36 and Vale becoming 31. Then we have Ben who will become 26 this year and Jorge 23.
"At this moment there is no urgent need to look for younger talents but of course we always keep our eye out to see if there are any hot riders coming out from Moto2 class or Superbike class."
Lorenzo started his MotoGP career with three straight poles and a victory in his third race in 2008, but then lost momentum with a series of huge crashes. He doubts whether Spies and fellow high-profile newcomer Marco Simoncelli – the 2008 250cc champion who is joining Gresini Honda – can emulate his explosive early results, but believes they might beat his eventual fourth place in the championship from his rookie year.
"They are champions, they are young, they are very fast and they want to be fast in MotoGP as early as possible," said Lorenzo. "Maybe it will not be easy to improve [on] my debut, because I won the pole position and I finished second in the race, but if they do not crash, they could even improve [on] my final [championship] result."