The next logjam in the motorcycle racing silly season looks like it is about to be burst. According to the British sites MCN and Visordown, Ben Spies has made up his mind, and will be making the switch to MotoGP in 2010. Spies is to replace James Toseland at the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team, turning Tech Trois into the Texas Two, as the young American will be racing alongside fellow Texan Colin Edwards. Edwards is rumored to have signed a contract with Tech 3 boss Herve Poncharal - taking a pay cut of $500,000 - but Tech 3 has yet to make an official announcement.
Similarly, no official announcement has been made on the news that Spies is to switch to MotoGP, but Yamaha and Tech 3 may find it impossible to contain the news. The first opportunity for an official announcement would be at the following World Superbike round, on September 27th at Imola, though even holding up an announcement that long could be difficult.
The news will be welcomed by fans and MotoGP insiders. Spies is now 25, and many people feel that it is imperative to get into MotoGP as soon as possible, and start working on getting used to the bike. Both Colin Edwards and James Toseland have said that they wish they had made the move earlier, even though Toseland was only 26 when he made his MotoGP debut. However, the way in which Spies has entered the World Superbike series, winning at tracks he's never seen before and the hot favorite to take the title in his rookie year suggests that age may not be an issue for the Texan. What's more, if Spies does take the WSBK title this year, there's little reason for Spies to stay in the series, especially given that he has always stated that his goal has been to race in MotoGP.
Spies' switch to MotoGP has two immediate consequences: James Toseland is out at Tech 3, and Spies' seat at the factory Belgarda Yamaha World Superbike squad is now open. Toseland is certainly a candidate for Spies' slot in World Superbikes, and Motorcycle News is reporting that Toseland's manager Roger Burnett was in Italy trying to make this happen. But competition for the seat is stiff: Cal Crutchlow should be offered one of the two Yamaha WSBK R1s once he ties up the World Supersport title, and the second seat is being hotly contested. Toseland, but also Chris Vermeulen and Alex de Angelis have all been linked to the ride, and with Crutchlow still in talks with Moto2 teams about 2010, there could well be two vacant seats at Yamaha's factory World Superbike squad.
With Toseland out at Tech 3, the paddock consensus is that his most likely destination will be World Superbikes. Besides the talks with Yamaha, Toseland is believed to have offers from the Ten Kate Honda squad, Alstare Suzuki and Aprilia. Dorna may want to keep Toseland in MotoGP to keep the BBC happy, but with a bunch of promising youngsters coming up through the 125cc class and likely to enter Moto2, the BBC may be prepared to settle for increased coverage of the MotoGP support classes, rather than having a MotoGP rider running around at the back of the field.