Whatever The Opposite Is Of Bombshell: Ben Spies Confirmed As Factory Yamaha Rider For 2011

As we predicted yesterday, the second-worst-kept secret in MotoGP was revealed today at Indianapolis, with the official confirmation that Ben Spies is to join the factory Yamaha team for 2011. The press release issued by Yamaha held very few surprises, though one or two interesting little details are available by reading between the lines. The first is that Spies is likely to take his American crew with him to the factory team, with Spies' reference to "his mechanics" almost certainly referring to crew chief Tom Houseworth and mechanic Greg Wood.

The second is that Fiat's departure from the factory Yamaha team now seems a given. The press release speaks only of Spies riding for the Factory Yamaha Team, rather than Fiat Yamaha, the team's current designation. The move has been widely anticipated, with Fiat heavily rumored to be leaving along with Valentino Rossi, and looking at ways of being involved in the Marlboro Ducati team. The press release follows below. Official photographs are available here and here

Yamaha Factory Racing Team Press Release

Indianapolis, USA

Friday 27th August 2010


Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd is delighted to announce that current Yamaha Tech 3 rider Ben Spies will move to the Factory Team for the 2011 MotoGP season.

The 26-year-old American, who won the World Superbike Championship with Yamaha in 2009, is enjoying an impressive first season in MotoGP. He is currently the leading rookie and the top satellite rider, lying seventh in the championship.

"We're delighted that Ben will join the Factory Team for next season," said Lin Jarvis, Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing. "Ben has shown great promise in his first ten MotoGP races. He has learnt rapidly and recorded strong results, including a well-deserved podium finish at Silverstone - impressive for someone in their first full season.

"We believe that Ben will be a future title contender and that he will be a good fit with our team. His mission next year will be to continue learning, consistently challenge for podium places and try to win some races. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Herve Poncharal and the Tech 3 Team for taking care of Ben this season and for giving him such good training for the years ahead. I hope that he will repay them by getting some more podium results in the second half of this season and helping them to secure top satellite team status at the end of this year."

Spies added "My first year in MotoGP has been a great learning curve and for that I have to thank Herve Poncharal, all the team at Tech 3 and especially my American mechanics who have stuck by me throughout this great journey so far. Having previously been to only four of the ten tracks to date, I have to be pleased with where I am and with having achieved my first podium so soon. I'm especially pleased that Yamaha have recognized the potential in me and given me the opportunity to step up to the Factory Team so early in my GP career. I believe that by working closely with the Yamaha staff and my mechanics we will be able to help develop the M1 and make the next step of challenging for regular podiums, followed by future championships."

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Does this imply that JB is going to Ducati with Rossi (or retiring)? The plot thickens (as plots are want to do).

"We believe that Ben will be a future title contender ". Yamaha continue with the policy of stacking the factory team with two potential title contenders? Hedging their bets in case Lorenzo leaves?

Maybe I'm a little behind the curve here, but maybe Ben is money in the bank for larger displacement engines. It's pretty obvious that his frame is better suited to larger bikes. Though this year considered, it would seem that he can and will ride the wheels off of anything.

Jorge vs Rossi
Ben vs Mladin

For some reason I don't think either will be going anywhere if they find themselves battling for the title.

This completely caught me off guard and frankly I'm having trouble regaining my composure in light of this unexpected news.

I'm going to go away now and cry myself into a puddle as I deal with my conflicting emotions regarding this surprising and world changing event...


Great stuff...

By the way, for nausea, put your head as far into the freezer as possible, then take big, deep breaths. It will eliminate nausea IMMEDIATELY. (no joke!)

You're welcome. :P

The press release speaks only of 2011, which will be the second year of Spies current two-year deal. 

... is on Burgess staying with Yamaha in some capacity, but not as a crew-cheif of either rider obviously.

Yamaha has a history of keeping the smart ones around for a while...

No word yet. I'll put an update on the site about the current state of play after the weekend. 

...would Yamaha have on Burgess and what he does/doesn't choose to do? Obviously, if he's under contract...but I would think he has the same contract length as Rossi...

I spoke to Lin Jarvis at some length at Brno. He said that Yamaha have an open culture and they discuss openly with their crew about their future. If Burgess wants to leave, he'd be welcome to go, but obviously he'd be kept away from 2011 material if he does decide to go. But Burgess is getting close to retirement, and may not want to go through the rigmarole of switching manufacturers again for two or three years. As for the rest of Rossi's crew, they too are individuals, and have their own goals and ambitions. Those ambitions may include going to Ducati. Or they may involve staying at Yamaha. 


One other thing I overheard somewhere. Maybe you know where I heard this, because aside from gpweek, I don't read really much of ANYthing else. I'm almost certain I heard it here. Anyway, I read something to the effect of, "Jeremy doesn't have another SIX years in him for another adventure at Ducati". What's with someone making a statement about six years? Is there something I don't know about, or was someone just throwing out a random figure?

In any case, "six years" made no sense to me... So, what gives?