Tech 3 Yamaha boss Herve Poncharal believes Ben Spies deserves huge credit for taking Rookie of the Year honors in his MotoGP debut season, the American having clinched the newcomers' class with his fifth place at Phillip Island.
Although Spies arrived in MotoGP as the reigning World Superbike champion, Poncharal pointed out that he was up against the top four from last year's 250cc championship – Hiroshi Aoyama, Hector Barbera, Marco Simoncelli and Alvaro Bautista – all of whom knew the majority of circuits on the MotoGP calendar, unlike Spies.
"Ben's amazing season just gets better and better," said Poncharal. "To win the rookie of the year title with two races to go is a fantastic achievement for him and all of his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew.
"A lot of very talented riders came from the 250cc class into MotoGP this year and they knew all the tracks, which Ben didn't. He's done a magnificent job and done it with another impressive top-five finish."
Spies secured the title by stretching his lead over nearest rookie rival Simoncelli to 61 points as he beat the Gresini Honda rider to fifth today.
"I'm happy to be Rookie of the Year," Spies said. "I beat a lot of good guys for that and it will be an achievement I can be proud of at the end of the season."
He felt he would have been able to fight for the podium today had he not lost momentum in a first-corner brush with future works Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo.
"Jorge and I got super-close coming out of the first corner and he almost touched my brake lever," Spies explained. "It made me run wide in Turn 2 and a couple of people came by. It didn't ruin the race but it ruined me building up some momentum. I fought my way back into third and was pretty comfortable when I ran wide at the first corner on lap seven. I got in there a bit hot and the rear came round. Everybody got a run on me and came by and dropped me back to sixth.
"I then had a good battle with Simoncelli. I kind of towed him around and he picked up his pace and came by me. Once I knew nobody was behind me, I just waited until a few laps from the end to push and pass him back. I made sure I got a decent gap and chilled out in fifth.
"At the end, I was running times that if everything had gone smoothly, I feel like we could have battled for the podium. Toward the end of the race I was running similar times to those ahead of me and that's all I can do."