Earlier today, we reported on rumors that Ben Spies was in the frame for the Factory Ducati ride in World Superbikes. We also mentioned that there was one problem standing in the way of a Spies - Ducati World Superbike deal, and that was Ducati's need to have an Italian rider on the team.
Well, it seems there is another, more serious problem, and one that seems to be a factor in every deal that Spies is linked with: the question of money. Like many of the riders in the AMA Superbike championship, Spies is extremely well paid. Like those riders, though, Spies is also aware that though an AMA title is nice, it doesn't have the status or the standing of a world championship. If Spies wants to know how he measures up against the rest of the world, he will have to head to Europe to ride in a series with a world title at stake.
And here's where the two desires clash: When Spies tells the teams who are interested in him as a rider how much money he needs as a base salary, they lose interest in him quicker than a teenage boy who has just spotted an oversized adam's apple. His reputed wage claim of US$ 2 million is bigger than anyone else in World Superbikes, and matches - and probably beats - most of the factory riders in MotoGP. For a rookie coming into a series, that's just way too much to be asking.
Now, the Italian website GPOne.com is carrying a report illustrating just how big a problem that is. Davide Tardozzi, the head of Ducati's World Superbike problem, confirmed to GPOne.com that Ducati had spoken to Spies' management, but that they weren't interested in the deal because of the money involved. "Even in dollars, millions are still millions," Tardozzi is quoted as saying. "We spoke to them, and there was an exchange of e-mails, but it was more like two ships passing each other at a great distance in thick fog. Spies is an interesting rider to us, but he is asking for too much money", Tardozzi told GPOne.com.
Time is running out for the Texan. It's obvious that there are a lot of teams out there interested in Spies, and there seems little doubt that Spies would do well in either MotoGP or World Superbikes. But if Spies is serious about coming to Europe, he will have to be more realistic about what he can expect to earn.