In his first year on a factory Yamaha, Ben Spies has thus far been quite inconsistent. Inconsistent enough that he sits in seventh place in the points after five races, just two spots ahead of ninth place Marco Simoncelli (Honda), another talented young rider who has had an inconsistent start to the 2011 campaign.
Spies grabbed a spot on the podium when he finished third at Catalunya last weekend, however. More importantly, his performance in comparison to current World champion Jorge Lorenzo, his teammate aboard the same bike, was quite impressive. Lorenzo, riding at his home track, gave it everything he had this weekend to grab the third position in qualifying and second position in the race. Spies qualified with essentially the identical time to Lorenzo (less than a tenth of a second difference), and finished the race less than two seconds behind Lorenzo to take third place.
More than once, Spies was faster than Lorenzo in pre-season testing. Could Spies begin to out-qualify and out-place Lorenzo at future rounds? At least occasionally? We will be watching closely when the series visits Silverstone next weekend.