More on Ben Spies Sitting Out at Assen

The BBC broadcast of the Assen MotoGP race offered some more insight into Ben Spies not taking advantage of Loris Capirossi’s bad luck to get more experience on the Rizla Suzuki 800cc machine. Suzuki Team Manager Paul Denning was interviewed briefly by Matt Roberts during the race and he had this to say about Spies opting not to ride the available bike: 

“[Spies] took his own choice. It was quite surprising for me, personally. I understand his reasons from a competitive point of view, but I would’ve thought it would’ve been a great thing to continue learning the bike. But that’s his decision and that was that.” 

BBC commentators Steve Parrish and Charlie Cox seemed to share the opinion that, judging from Denning’s tone as he spoke, Spies had made a poor choice in the boss’ view. With fourteen laps to go, Spies would’ve been at least in thirteenth place assuming he was still in the race. But Parrish went on to point out that since Spies missed the first day, that meant the American would only have had two one-hour sessions and the warm-up to learn yet another new track on the MotoGP Suzuki. 

Parrish commented at the end of the discussion that Spies had “nothing to lose and everything to gain” by going out on Capirossi’s bike. But even for a skilled rider such as Spies, one can easily see how Assen’s fast and flowing layout could be intimidating to someone riding it for the first time on a bike of limited familiarity and in such treacherous conditions. The fact is that riding a MotoGP bike is always dangerous, and doing so on a new, challenging track is even more so. As a man trying to win his third AMA Championship, Spies has a lot to lose if he injures himself away from an AMA event. 

Spies may also have been considering that he’ll be testing the 800cc Suzuki at Indianapolis tomorrow and Wednesday under more favorable conditions. Not only is the weather at Indy likely to present a safer track than a rainy Assen circuit, but Spies would put his time to better use by learning a course he’ll be racing on in September. He will also not have the pressure of a race weekend looming over his shoulder as he gains more experience with the MotoGP bike and Bridgestone tires. Had Spies risked riding a wet Assen circuit and crashed, he might easily have lost out on the Indy testing and thus arrived there in September without the benefit of having ridden the track before, further increasing the experience deficit he currently has relative to every other rider on the MotoGP grid. 

So though his decision may not have been popular among those in the Suzuki paddock, who would certainly have liked possibly to pick up a few extra points from their wildcard rider, Spies’ decision is, as Denning said, understandable. Spies’ solid performance at Donington Park showed he is patient and in control of his competitive instincts even as he lapped faster and faster with each session, including the race itself. To have a single hour session before taking to the track for qualifying amid the efforts of riders contending a world championship title would have been to add additional risk to what is essentially an extended testing session for Spies. A mistake on his part during qualifying or during the race might have jeopardized the championship standings if it involved another rider. But the risk of a crash that could hurt his own lead in the AMA championship back would have been greater with such limited time on a challenging new track. Strong performances at Laguna Seca and Indianapolis will likely have Spies back in the good graces of Suzuki management.



BBC Assen Broadcast

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“[Spies] took his own choice. It was quite surprising for me, personally."

What's surprising to me is that Suzuki's MotoGP team is lucky to get one podium a season, and yet Denning still has a job.

Good for Ben, I think he made a wise decision.

But, according to Eurosport announcers, he packed up and went home before the race. If he wasn't gonna stick around for the race, I wonder why he went to the Netherlands at all.

I can see where both Denning & Spies have valid points.  Getting the opportunity to ride a GP bike is huge & it would've been nice to see Spies jump at getting another chance to build off the progress he had @ Donnington. However, there seemed to be other factors (weather, lack of practice time @ a new & difficult track, defending his AMA championship) that Spies took into consideration.  I think playing it safe will payoff for Spies in the long run as I think he has an excellent chance to get a Top 5 or even a podium @ Laguna Seca.  Of course, I believe his main goal will be to follow in the footsteps of another famous Texan & his mentor, Kevin Schwantz, & become a GP champion.

I really can't understand this crazy decision by Spies. Most people would have loved to give their right arm for any chance to ride in MotoGP on Assen. This American Idiot chooses to stay out, thus showing his big lack of motivation for going into MotoGP. If he wants to hang on to his chances for the AMA title: ok, stay there, never come to Europe again. We can miss racers that don't want to race.

Me?  I would have ridden.  But I can see things from his perspective as the test at Indianapolis is very important to him.  If he does well, it could mean the difference between a competitive ride or riding a Suzuki.  I think that's what Denning knows too.  In a supply and demand world, there isn't a shortage of talented unproven riders.  Denning knows that too.

They should have told Loris to take more time and given Ben the ride sooner. Most riders want to rush back, but the team principles should have better judgement. Ben made the right decision and by doing so demonstrated his maturity and wisdom. Without time to properly prepare and set up the bike he was taking a senseless risk. Ben has won every championship he has run. GP will be no different. I wish he did run at Assen, but he made the right decision. I predicted a podium for him at Leguna Seca and more seat time would have sealed the deal. I still predict Spies on the box and also like Nicky for the win with the 'new and improved' Honda at LS.

 because if he wasn't riding, what was the point!  he was there to ride, but obviously, only if loris got on the bike and then straight off it. he wanted practice time. i think he got scared of having his first session in the wet at assen, but the cynic in me says that a bad result might not be good for contract leverage. for sure he's got other options bedsides suzuki, and there are at least 3 other companies in moto gp that make quicker bikes. don't think spies doesn't know that. i don't think spies too worried about what denning thinks at this point- he more worried about how he look to the yamaha, honda and ducati interested parties.

if suzuki were really interested, why didn't they sign him last year? instead, they took an aging superstar who like melandri, elias, and everyone other racer besides casey- can't ride the ducati with any kind of pace.