Edwards Back With Tech 3 For 2010, Seat Held Open For Spies?

With Jorge Lorenzo finally signed up to Yamaha and Dani Pedrosa back at Honda, the next domino to fall in the MotoGP and World Superbike silly season is surely Ben Spies. Shortly before the Misano MotoGP round, Yamaha made an announcement that seemed to tie up Spies' future, were it not for a probably deliberate and certainly unusual choice of words. The press release said that the agreement between Spies and Yamaha "foresees" Spies being in World Superbikes in 2010, but the word "foresees" sent the English-language press reaching for their dictionaries and discussing its many various subtleties in depth and at length worthy of a roomful of Kremlinologists. Did "foresee" mean that Spies would definitely be in WSBK for 2010 and MotoGP in 2011? Could he come to MotoGP a year early? Could it potentially even mean that Spies could decide to stay in World Superbikes for 2011 as well?

The first clue was provided by Roger Burnett, James Toseland's manager. Burnett told the BBC before the race that Monster Tech 3 Yamaha boss Herve Poncharal had been asked by Yamaha to make Colin Edwards an offer, a fitting reward for a successful season. After the race, Edwards confirmed to journalists that an agreement had been reached, and as Colin Young over at SpeedTV is reporting, Edwards will be staying with the Tech 3 team for 2010. "It's been a great team this year. My crew chief is awesome, the team owner Herve Poncharal is a great guy, so the whole package fits so why change it? Herve wanted me to stay, we just had to get the funding right," Edwards told SpeedTV.

Though Edwards is staying with the same team, the crucial detail here is the subtle change in his position. If Edwards has a contract from Poncharal rather than Yamaha Japan, then he no longer occupies the seat that Yamaha Japan has inside the Tech 3 team, but has been shifted sideways into James Toseland's seat. That would appear to mean that Yamaha is now holding open a seat for someone at the Tech 3 team. And that someone can surely only be Ben Spies, although Lin Jarvis, speaking to the Spanish daily AS.com, would not be drawn on who would be placed there. "Edwards has an offer for another year, and I would prefer not to talk about the fourth Yamaha," Jarvis told AS. "It depends on a series of circumstances." Jarvis acknowledged that out of work Spanish rider Toni Elias was one option for the seat but "He is not our first choice."

With Spies looking increasingly likely to wrap up the World Superbike title a year earlier than expected, his move to MotoGP is looking increasingly imminent. His stratospheric performance in the World Superbike series has complicated Yamaha's initial plans, which were to give Spies a year to learn the tracks, a year to win the title, then move him into MotoGP. But it is widely believed that Spies extracted promises of promotion to MotoGP after he won the title, and if he does so a year earlier than expected, he will be expecting his MotoGP ride to be brought forward as well.

That leaves us with the question of Yamaha's announcement of Spies staying with the factory for two more years, and their strange selection of the word "foresees". If Yamaha are not going to offer Spies a place in MotoGP, why not just state plainly that Spies WILL go to World Superbikes in 2010? Similarly, if he is coming to MotoGP, then why not just say so and be done with it? If it depends on whether Spies wins the World Superbike title or not, why not just wait until the title has been decided, why make such a premature announcement? The best answer to this question has been put forward by the Italian site GPOne.com. The announcement was made early as a defensive move, to keep Spies in the Yamaha fold. It seems that Ducati had been making approaches to Spies, trying to tempt him into riding the Desmosedici next season in the Pramac team, and Yamaha felt the need to head Ducati off at the pass. With the race at Magny Cours in early October the earliest that the World Superbike title could be decided, waiting until that championship was decided one way or the other provided the competition with too much time to try to lure Spies away.

American MotoGP fans have been hoping for Team Texas - the pairing of Texas Tornado Colin Edwards with Texas Terror Ben Spies - for some time now. To many paddock insiders - including ourselves here at MotoGPMatters.com - it did not seem likely, as both Edwards and Spies were in contention for the same seat. Yamaha may be about to prove us wrong, however.

Back to top


Suzi Perry asked CEII on the grid at Misano if he had already resigned. He just grinned broadly. Rumor has it he took a $500,000 pay cut...

motogp needs CE, and he deserves to stay. There is still a chance that he could get his first win. (wishful thinking).

The speculation on this site is awesome. It reminds me of Neil Spalding when he speculates about various tech changes in MotoGP. Sound reasoning.

Great news for Colin, too. I think Yamaha wanted to send him to WSBK to take Spies seat, but if Edwards has indeed broken ties with Yamaha Japan, he may have pulled a fast one on Yamaha.

I would not think of Edwards having broken any ties with Yamaha Japan, because David reports Yamaha Japan told Tech 3 to sign with Edwards. This may reflect how the rookie rule will come into play when factory gets involved, making a big influence who their #1 satellite team should have racing their brand. I do not think Edwards is the kind that would pull a fast one too.

Wow, if Honda can improve their bike a little, this could make for an intense constructor's championship.
Yamaha would have Valentino, Jorge, Colin, and Ben.
Honda would have Dani, Andrea, Marco, Marco, etc.

It's going to be tough for Casey and Nicky and company to out score all of the above.

And Loris and Alvaro? Forget about it.

I hope Haga can pull out the championship and maybe keep Spies in WSBK for another year. Stiggy on Yams should make things interesting for 2010 in production racing. Ben will get his chance to place 5th overall soon enough.

This is not fully on topic, but nonetheless interesting:


"...he is fulfilling his mission every weekend."

With that kind of praise of Edwards, especially in the context that he is routinely competing for the top spot behind the Fantastic Four, who else would he sign?  If Yamaha are willing to pay for Spies in the "A" seat, what possible scenario could there be for not having someone of similar size and physique - and developmental skills - in a mentoring role for the team?

Is it assumed (or publicly known) that Spies and his chief are both renewed in tandem so that they will stay together in the move to MotoGP?


I reiterate the question asked by Rusty above. Should we assume that Houseworth will make the jump to MotoGP also? It would be a shame to separate a pair that works so well together.
Guy Coulon should stay with Colin, and it probably wouldn't be a good idea to give Toselands old crew chief to Ben. We saw how well that worked out for James.

Nothing against Toseland, but his results didn't seem to hinge on what crew he had.

Just when I thought it was screwy enough announcing that Spies was being held back after the year he has had. this twist just wont go away. At first I was irritated that Yamaha had left him dangling in the breeze but after I cooled down and thought it through I understand the statements Yamaha released. Yamaha has a lot on their plate with leading the WSBK and MotoGP and BSB series. To move Ben to MotoGP would surely leave a major void in their WSBK effort! So then the question is who do you replace him with? JT seems intent on staying in MotoGP regardless of the team and Cal Crutchlow seems intent on a Moto2 future. So that would (in theory) leave Yamaha shopping for a new star. Leon Camier and Josh Hayes would my first alternates if the aforementioned two chose to move from the Yamaha fold. Fun stuff!

Both Spies and Camier have had fairly amazing seasons. The BSB team has the tech support of the WSBK effort. How much is it the bike and how much the rider? Sykes and Ellison aren't doing bad either, but they weren't the front runners that Spies and Camier were to begin with.

I think the timing of Spies' move to MotoGP has far less to do with him winning the championship or a Tech 3 slot this year, but rather the timing of Valentino Rossi's departure from MotoGP. If Spies moves over in 2010, there may be no room at the inn in 2011 if Rossi and Lorenzo sustain performance and interest in Yamaha. If he has his rookie year in 2011, then 2012 will likely be the year for the factory (or someones factory team).

Has RdP signed yet? I think he would be great on a better machine. Look what he's done on a Kawasaki and a third string Honda. I thought I read a rumor (rumerz) that DePuniet was going to Tech 3 since he's you know, French.

Looks like Yamaha have seen the same thing in Ben that everyone else except Brookespeed has. That he's a winner and has progressed far faster than anyone would have expected. Spies's manager obviously has had something agreed upon with Yamaha and why not? Spies came into this year on a new team, on a totally new bike and manufacturer, new tires he'd never ridden, and on tracks a majority of which he had never ridden. Despite all that he's leading the championship over a seasoned rider in Haga who some may say is a perennial choker for winning a championship.

"front runner" and "amazing season". Or is it that I dare question the all wonderful Texas-'insert something else with a T here'?

Here's a supposition for all the jingoists, er, I mean fans: Spies is only doing so well because Bayliss retired. If The Aussie-Awesomeness was still around, he'd be burying the Texas-Toreador.

My point being; there's no reason to get defensive. In all sincerity, I hope Spies has the opportunity to be the 5th Alien.

Beaten by James Toseland. I mean, gee whiz. Ducati=Italian Buell, but not as innovative.

Even Rossi has a rough year now and then! Though it also reminds us of the Bayliss of Pons Honda in 2005 as well as Valencia 2006: Who can predict which riders will move from SBK to GP and be successful (or when)? I'd like to see if Toselands bulb has burned out or if he can score a Ten Kate or Yamaha Italia ride and show us that he just didn't get along with the M1. WSBK may be even more stacked next year. Not just 2 stroke refugees, but proven store-bought-bike cowboys like Vermeulen and Toseland from GPs.

But equating Ducati and Buell is pretty funny. I guess the kind of innovation that leaves one to require double the displacement of fours and 50 percent more than other twins to compete might just be the kind of innovation the Italians can understand. At least the Ducati looks good trying.

Here's a supposition for all the jingoists, bayliss only won due to the decent guys leaving/retiring. Maybe he only won in 2008 because ducati had their capacity advantages back?

Spies will be an interesting addition into MotoGP. he certainly cannot do any worse than somebody who has won WSBK titles on two different types of bikes.

Bayliss did ok in 2006 when his Ducati only had 1000cc, and turned in a reasonable performance in a MotoGP race that year too : ) Rossi seems to rate him as a fast guy...

One of the things that is most apparent about Spies is that he *thinks* during his races, and comes up with strategies for which his opponents have no answer. He will be very interesting to watch in MGP.

Superbike racing is so much more exciting. Last week we saw a Ducati, Honda, Yamaha, BMW and Aprilia within a second or two. MotoGP is processional, with grid so small you can almost always get points just by staying upright. Superbike has three knockout qualifying sessions and two races, and a rider or team can recover from a technical problem or crash.

I love MotoGP, but WSBK is much better to watch, at least for now. As much as I'm curious how Spies would do, I want to see him one more year drifting that R1 with his elbow an inch off the ground.

Club racing can also be exciting but Spies isn't really getting his elbow nearly as close to the ground as anyone in MotoGP.

I am also not convinced that WSBK is that much more dramatic. Unless both Spies and Haga have a good day, the finish really isn't any better.

In WSBK there are regularly 30 riders starting races, all four major Japanese brands plus Ducati, Aprilia, and BMW, and often groups of 6-8 riders fighting for the lead pack. Yes, Haga and Spies have come up on top more often than the others, but Fabrizio, Biaggi, Johhny Rea, Carlos Checa and Shakey Byrne can all win on any weekend. There are a dozen guys that can and do podium.

Compare that to MotoGP: 17 bikes, meaning everyone who finished last week got points. There are three Japanese brands with Kawasaki leaving plus Ducati. Every race will have a podium consisting of Rossi, Lorenzo, Pedrosa or Stoner, barring crashes or mechanical failures.

Looking at those facts, how is it possible to say "I am not convinced that WSBK is that much more dramatic?"

I should clarify that I enjoy WSBK and follow it closely. That said, I am not moved by the drama that others seem to see in it. Yes, there are a small number of riders that can win but they rarely do and when they do it is usually because Haga or Spies have crashed. If either Haga or Spies weren't around this season, the points gap between 1st and 2nd would be astounding.

Yes, there are only 4 riders likely to win on a given weekend in MotoGP but there are 4 of them. Until last weekend, the title was completely up in the air and would have been more so had Stoner not missed 2 races.

The points gap in WSBK is 18 (with double the amount points available), it is 30 in MotoGP only because the Donkey wiped-out the weekend before.

Count the number of passes amongst the leaders, count the number of different winners and podium finishers. Hell. count the number of races each weekend, you get double the drama in WSBK just based on the double race format alone.

No matter how you slice, MotoGP can't hold a candle to WSBK except for one last corner pass this year and certain pass on the dirt last year. Even the Donkey has said so himself...

I love MotoGP. Seriously, I do. But I've found myself fast-forwarding through the middle laps lately because no riders were even close to each other. The races have become time trials. I've spent much more time watching WSBK, WSS (although now Crutchlow has stamped his total domination on that class), 250s and 125s.

And speaking of elbows... or should we say Elbowz. Love him or hate him, Spies has a completely committed riding style:

Ben Spies / a.k.a. Elbowz

When you think about the other names mentioned in connection with the second Tech 3 bike, pairing Spies with Edwards clearly seems to offer MotoGP the most bang for the buck. If Dorna wants Toseland to stay so that there's at least one British rider on the grid (it doesn't seem to matter how far back apparently), they can find another current place for him, or put up some cash themselves and put their marketing and arm twisting into high gear in order to put another bike on the grid.

What I never ever will understand is why Suzuki let Spies go. OK, we never could have predicted he would do so well in his first season, but looking at the performances in AMA and in the 2 MotoGP rounds, Suzuki should have kept Spies no matter what.

Ofcourse he wouldnt come cheap and probably that's where it all went wrong. But look at it this way: Suzuki never ever is going to be world champion based on the fact that they built the best bike. They NEED a rider of the caliber 'Schwantz' for them to win races. With all the millions being spent in the Suzuki MotoGP team why not spent an extra couple of million on someone who make a difference between just competing and actually winning !

I think the problem at Suzuki is it's a global recession, they're losing money and simply cannot afford the investment needed to be competitive.

They even dropped their support for their World Supersport team when the GSXR 600 is their best selling sport bike worldwide.

One thing's for sure. I'm gonna bet Gary Reynolds is NOT employed as a crewchief next year by Tech 3.

Ben and House have proven to be a formidable force. An X factor not mentioned is that once they brought Woody over from Yosh, where he was crew chief for the promising Schwantz protoge' Blake Young, Ben stopped having strange mechanicals. (shifters falling off, running out of fuel 500 meters from the finish etc...)

IF Ben goes to GP, hopefully all 3 could make the transition. (Maybe bring Hashimoto along too?)

Tom Sykes showed a little speed in Germany but hasn't been much of a threat this year. This makes me wonder just how big a difference Houseworth's presence made in Ben's performances. Does it enable Ben to focus that much more on "just" riding the bike?

I concur that Hayes is a fantastic choice. I can't recall Bostrom being in front of him that often this year. I wonder what sort of difference it would make if Jim Roach came with him. Seems to be a good thing to have a committed crew chief and rider pairing. (Can you say Rossi and Burgess?)

Besides, why would Yamaha do a funny spot with him if he wasn't headed up? THAT seems to be the big indicator :)
"Don't worry, I brought up the white wine with the fish"

Terry Southern, on being chastised by a society hostess for being sick after drinking

Everyone here assumes spies is the new big thing but does nobody else think that he will just be the new james toseland. think about this for a second, the chances of spies actually winning a race next year is next to none and a podium chance is slim. the closest non-factory team he would be racing 'against' is the the gresini team and they have the two marcos' both of whom could easily outshine spies. I wouldn't bet against some of the new 250 riders having a great year in 2010 and that is where tech3 are missing a trick. i dont want to see spies become the new colin and never win a race, so i hope he thinks long and hard (im sure he is) before he makes the jump because i certainly feel toseland has wasted a couple of years when he could have stayed at WSBK and been chmpion again.

that passes for blasphemy. Or so I'm lead to believe by some folks. Even with his uncanny ability to go fast at new circuits this season in WSBK, he's a fairly unknown quantity in GPs. And that's being generous by forgetting his performances on a Suzuki. But I'll be glad to stand there, jaw dropped, if he can do the same in the prototype league and say, "well, I'll be..."

the first one to take that wager. I picked Spies before the WSBK season started to win that title. He'll podium at least twice next year on the Tech3 bike, if he doesn't win a race. Many doubt his talent and his drive, I don't. I've seen the fire in his eyes. Along with his great talent, he's a very determined young man who knows not only what he wants but is willing to put in the work and has the dedication necessary to get there. Mark it down, you heard it here.

My guess is that we'll see Spies beside either Rossi or Lorenzo in 2011, it depends on which one of them is really that mad at Yamaha about how the other has been give "the real goods" when it comes to being "the #1 rider". I suspect it'll be Jorge and he'll go to Honda for a fat paycheck.

Wow, you're really going out on a limb with those prediction! A few podiums? I think you need to read the rest of the praise people have for him. Going by that, he'll take the title by mid season (before walking on water and healing a blind guy).

Where's Daddy? And his mother's name is... Mary. That's all I'm saying. Jesus walks among us brothers and sisters. Let's just keep him protected from the Romans.

He needs protection from only one Roman: Fabrizio.

I'm closing in a very nice payday for the small wager I placed on Ben the day he signed with Yamaha. $20 with 50:1 odds, how sweet it is!

But I'm not delusional. Under normal circumstances he will not win a race on a Tech3 bike. But he's head and shoulders above Colin and James, and I am mean no disrespect to either.

As for the Marco-X2 team, I think he will be beating them regularly, as well as the Suzuki boys.

At the beginning of the season Both Kevin Schwantz and Mat Mladin said Ben would have a heyday with the WSBK regulars. To say that merely came to fruition is simply unjust. While I wont be so bold as to proclaim him the next Rossi beater or even potential race winner in his first year. I do think he is capable of running with the very fastest guys out there on equal equipment and testing time. The reduced testing time in MotoGP may in fact play into His hands to some extent, as he has shown that he is able to rapidly come to terms with his setup at a new circuit, certainly faster than anyone in WSBK! But even if he did go to MotoGP the new regulations are conspiring against him. The rookie rule ensures that he is not on a true factory squad, and the engine rule has already shown the tech3 bikes to be significantly de-tuned as compared to even the Fiat bikes. That puts things back on a realistic 6th or perhaps 5th place footing by my thumbnail estimation.

The engine rule should help out those 'burdened' with being stuck riding a satellite bike. It seems that the difference with the factory and satellite bikes is the in-season development. You may recall some riders crying for parts. With a 6 engine limit on the season I don't think there will be the kind of changes in engine power throughout the season as we've seen in years past on some bikes. So if the satellite bikes start the season on close footing with factory bikes, they'll not be outpaced during the season so much.