Ben Spies To Join Tech 3 Yamaha Squad In 2010?

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.

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Has Toseland done enough to warrant the WSB R1 seat? I think that of all the potential MotoGP refugees, Vermeulen is the one who has the form over the last few years to be the main contender - he's done as well as the Suzuki will allow (although recently Capirex has been beating him, can't really explain that) but he rarely tosses the bike away and is always one of the fastest lappers in any given race.

Good news if Spies does indeed come in for 2010, he will be fascinating to watch - especially if Yamaha gets a bit more serious about support for Tech3, and if the rumours about Honda's improved satellite support prove true, Yamaha will have no choice but to follow suite.

I think Toseland's best move would be Ten Kate for obvious reasons, I think he could regain his mojo there more easily than with any other ride.

As a Spies fan I think this is inevitable, and I for one can't wait for him to get there. As far as JT goes the Yamaha WSBK squad will be a very hotly contested seat and he may be a good fit. Yamaha is saber rattling about Crutchlow wanting to leave (violating his contract) for Moto2 (real or imagined) and there was a report yesterday on GPone that Meregalli wants Alex DeAngelis at Tech 3 to partner Cal (should the contract battle pan out in Yamaha's favor) If that story is true James may not be the front runner for Yamaha WSBK. I have said before that Cal would be foolish to leave the Yamaha factory fold at this point, unless it was to another major factory. He is almost guaranteed Spies ride if Ben makes the leap to the big show. With Rossi and Lorenzo both on one year contracts it is almost a certainty that one of them would leave Yamaha in 2011, possibly making way for Spies at Fiat Yamaha and at least one seat at Tech3 for Cal for 2011? Extrapolated thought process for certain but entertaining to think about.

Is Crutchlow actually contracted to Yamaha for 2010? It was my understanding that Yamaha just had the option which, while it will take some negotiating to get around, would not consitute a violation of his contract if Crutchlow were to refuse that option.

If I were to be face with a decision, I would look to Toseland's WSBK results over his MotoGP results. Similarly, I would compare Vermeulen's.

If considering MotoGP results, I would still have to look at the fact that Capirossi has scored higher than Vermeulen 16 times while on the Suzuki compared to half that number that Vermeulen has scored higher.

Spies move to Tech 3 is the perfect timing. The Tech 3 squad will get more factory support from Yamaha but the biggest advantage to making the move now is being teamed up with Colin. Think of the support and knowlegde that Ben will receive for him. We have all seen what can happen when you cross Colin (ie J.T.) so getting a guy like Ben is the perfect move. As fast as Spies learns the tracks, imagine what input from Colin can do for this kid. Lookout fantastic come TEXAS!

I'd like to see Spies announce his decision to move to MotoGP and toss away the WSBK championship on the same day.

But I'd really like to see him move up in 2010 for several reasons. First, I'd like to see Haga win a title before retirement. Second, it will make 2011 silly season nearly impossible to not be interesting. Lastly, more Schadenfreude?!

I predict Ben will be the first person to win both the WSBK and MotoGP world titles.

We're actually no further ahead than we were last week, in knowing FOR SURE what Ben's doing in 2010.
All that's going on here is the rumour mill being churned ever more furiously in the absence of any action on a race track.
Patience, grasshopper..........................


So Yamaha in 2010 are likely to have Rossi, Lorenzo, Edwards and Spies. And possibly still the best/or at least a very good bike.

A pretty good line up.

What happens in 2011 if Spies has been promised a move up and Rossi and Lorenzo want to stay will be interesting.

Very interesting about 2011. Not that I'm doubting it, but providing that Spies does do well enough to warrant a factory ride and both Lorenzo and Rossi decide to stay with Fiat Yamaha, I think Yamaha would just provide a 3rd factory bike to Spies.

If the cost cutting works as planned and costs are reduced even further for 2011, it would make sense (at least to me) that they would be able to set up a factory bike for Spies in the Tech 3 garage. I'd imagine that it would be similar to how Honda provide the Gresini team with one factory bike (albeit the Repsol team bikes are far more factory-er than the Gresini one).

Granted, that's getting waaaaay ahead of the current picture and for 2010 alone it looks to have a lot of competition and a welcome influx of new talent.

Spies will get a nearly factory bike as soon as he arrives at Tech 3. The bike will probably be just one step behind Lorenzo's bike, which is half a step behind Rossi's bike. The bigger question is whether Spies' engineer Tom Houseworth will come with him. The answer to that must surely be yes, as House has been one of the keys to the Texan doing so well in his first year in WSBK.

Word is that the Tech 3 bike will get full factory support and is "supposed" to be the same bike. If that is true, Spies can be right there in the mix right out of the gate.

Wow - Yamaha will have an embarrassment of riches. Given the ambitions of each of their talented riders and their respective contract situations, as nace commented earlier, something would have to give in 2011 and silly season should be crazy. Lorenzo to take the Duc option then perhaps...? Interesting to compare the current and potential future stables of each of the factories. If this is the Yamaha foursome and if Honda's riders come on strong, it could be a very interesting battle each race in 2010, not to mention if Stoner is back on song and Nicky makes more progress. Fingers crossed for Suzuki.

This all also seems to highlight that the factories have at least maintained or even increased their influence, what with determining who will get full-factory / almost-factory / kinda-factory / last year's bike. Can't escape politics eh?

Now, assuming the news is true, Tech Trois should get Tetley's Tea on board to sponsor the Texas Two and take them to IoM TT in 2010...

Despite the consensus that this positions Yamaha well for negotiating contracts for 2011, I see this backfiring.

I posted this over at BARF as that is where the thought occurred to me but it seems relevant so I'll quote myself:

"...Or Yamaha lets loose one of the best riders on the grid to challenge them from another bike because they can't keep Spies in a satellite team. I am not sure that if I had Rossi, Lorenzo and Spies all locked down I would want to try to split 2 seats between the three of them. With Spies in WSBK, they have four seats for three riders, move him up to a satellite team next year and you only have two seats for three riders in 2011 and you must give one of them to a rival factory.

If this is the contract negotiating tactic Yamaha is planning, I have a bridge to sell them."