World Superbike champion Ben Spies says he is encouraged by his fifth-place finish in the season-opening Qatar MotoGP.
After a disappointing qualifying session – the Texan started 11th – the Tech 3 rider enjoyed a strong start to his first full season in the top flight. He ran in the top six for much of the race, shadowing factory Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo and putting a forceful move on Dani Pedrosa's works Honda along the way.
"It was good," he told the BBC afterward. "I was a little bit worried starting on the fourth row: that didn't do the team any favors. But I got off to a good start, and got in behind some quick people.
"We made a pretty good changes to the bike before the race. We made something a little better and lacked a little bit more rear grip. But overall the bike was better and I rode as hard as I could."
Spies added that running on the same pace as the leaders and keeping within sight of the battle for the podium was evidence for him that he is making strides in the right direction.
"It was confidence inspiring after the weekend we had to keep Lorenzo right there and actually for a few laps we were reeling in the front guys," he said. "But that was everything I had and I think I rode a pretty good race.
"I didn't make too many mistakes and that was all we had today."