Poncharal: "The First Step Is To Stay With The Aliens"

The fact that Kevin Schwantz believes Ben Spies will win a race in his first season, as we reported over the weekend, should hardly come as a surprise, given Schwantz' long association with the young Texan. Spies excellent times at the first test of the year at Sepang confirmed that the Texan is making the necessary progress towards that goal, but most observers regard it as a little too early to tell.

To get the view of Ben Spies' team manager on the question, MotoMatters.com spoke with Herve Poncharal, and put Schwantz' bold claim to the Frenchman. The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 manager was much more cautions than Spies' mentor and former world champion Schwantz. "Kevin obviously has a lot of confidence in Ben," Poncharal said. "Obviously you can never rule out the possibility of a win. Colin came very close to winning at Donington last year," Poncharal said, but the task ahead was not simple. "I really hope Kevin is right, but winning on a regular basis is not easy."

Before Spies can beat the Fantastic Four, he first has to catch them, Poncharal pointed out. "The first step is to stay with top four, then to try and beat them. But to stay with them is already tough," the Frenchman told MotoMatters.com.

The recent test at Sepang had proved that the Tech 3 team had the necessary tools to attempt to beat the Aliens. Both Edwards and Spies had been very impressed with the 2010 Yamaha YZR-M1, Poncharal said. The team, and especially Edwards, had had some concerns over the effect of the changes that were needed for the engine to deal with the new engine limits. The first iteration of the long-life engine Yamaha produced in the summer of 2009, which only had to last for a little over a race and a half, had been significantly down on power. The new version, which will have to last three full race weekends, is much better. "After Brno last year, Colin was not happy with the engine, it was much weaker, so we didn't know what to expect," Poncharal said. "But at Sepang, we have been discovering an incredible engine and an incredible bike. This is the most powerful engine Yamaha have made, more powerful than the engine at the beginning of '09, when there were no limits. The engine has a lot of bottom power and a lot of torque. It is really a lot like a 990 engine," Poncharal enthused.

It wasn't just the engine that Spies and Edwards were pleased with, though. The entire package of the Yamaha is very strong, according to the Tech 3 team manager: "We are amazed with Yamaha Racing, they have produced an engine with reliability and an incredible character and good power. The character goes very well with the chassis."

Whether Spies will learn fast enough to win a race in his first full season as a MotoGP rider remains to be seen. If he doesn't, it won't be because of the machinery he is on.

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We have yet to see Ben Spies take a step backwards ...
He ran just behind the aliens at Sepang as a rookie on a track that was new to him. DP better not look over his shoulder.
I wouldn't be surprised to see him win a race and I certainly expect to see him on the box a few times.

1,2,3 Yams would be a sight wouldn't it?

Lefty, how about a Yamaha 1,2,3,4. That would be a nice coup for the manufacturer. Off the top of my head I can't think of the last time Yamaha took the top four places?

Ponchral....first he has to be able to stay with them !

....Then he has to be able to be confortable in that rithm to start thinking off overtaking the others.

.....ans then he has to be able to take it another step forward, because guys like Rossi & sometimes Stoner, when in a " dog fight " will push over what we consider to be the ultimate limits!

He has got the skils, he has proven it with his racing, if he gets the bike......there could only be another doubt.
Will he take the psicological pressure?? - Because luck is the only thing you can´t control

Can´t wait!!!!

Think what you may on Matt Mladin as a rider but have no doubt that he could play head games with the best of them. Spies faltering under psycological pressures is the least of my worries after spending four years battling on the track and working out of the same pits as Mladin...

I think the factory M1's will be significantly better than the Tech 3's by seasons end. It's true the engine limit will shrink the gap between factory and satellite machines initially, but improvements will continually be added to the factory bikes which may only trickle down to the satellite bikes a few times each season, if that.

Cryogeneric said.............."I think the factory M1's will be significantly better than the Tech 3's by seasons end."
Maybe not. Since Rossi or Jorge one will probably not be with the factory team in 2011 and if Spies meets Yamaha's expectations (both which should be known by the last 3rd of the season), it would make sense for them to give Spies a near factory spec bike so he will be more familiar with it upon moving to the factory team after the last race this season.

expectation on spies next season in moto gp, unlike his entry into wsbk, where in preseason, finishing anywhere in the top 5 would have been a successful season for him by most accounts. personally, before the season started, i placed him to finish 3rd. naturally, after a few races, he was obviously going to be 1st or 2nd at years end.

people are expecting him to win in his first season, and that's going to be very, very difficult. surely, there is much more pressure to succeed this season than last. everyone expects it! it can't be easy being ben atm.

The posters on this site are, with few exceptions, some of the most informed anywhere in cyber-space. I agree that Spies is a rare talent (as are most of the others in MotoGP). He will definitely have his work cut out for him, but even so, I predict that Spies will soon contend with the top 4 aliens, and by the middle of the year be fighting for podiums at most races – if he stays healthy and Yamaha gives him the bike to do it.