MotoGP's current worst-kept secret is finally out: Ben Spies has now officially signed to ride for the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team in MotoGP in 2010. In a press release issued just a few minutes ago, the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team officially announced their rider line up for 2010, and it's going to be Team Texas. Spies will partner Colin Edwards for next season, whose widely-rumored contract was also made official at Estoril.
Spies signing has a number of repercussions, the most interesting of which occur next year. First of all, it puts pressure on the young Texan to win the World Superbike title this season, as this is likely to be his only chance for the foreseeable future. Secondly, Spies switch to Tech 3 underlines Yamaha's embarrassment of riches in the rider department, the Texan joining Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi at the Sign of the Tuning Forks.
Which puts Yamaha in a very strong position next season, when a bidding war is expected to be unleashed, with all of the Fantastic Four - Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner, as well as Lorenzo and Rossi - will be in the last year of their contracts. With Spies ready to move up to the factory Fiat Yamaha team if needed, Yamaha can afford to pick their riders more carefully. They can afford to let either Jorge Lorenzo or Valentino Rossi go - though Rossi's loss would be a huge marketing blow, at the very least - and still have a very strong team.
This presupposes that Spies lives up to the hype he has generated by steamrollering the World Superbike field in his rookie year. There are doubts over Spies' size, as he is a little taller and a little more solidly built in comparison to what is generally regarded as the ideal for MotoGP. But Spies' outings on the Suzuki in 2007 were sufficiently impressive to leave little room for doubt that he will at least be competitive on a MotoGP bike, though the question of whether he can match the pace of the Fantastic Four is still wide open.
Spies will not be left to attempt this on his own. Spies will be bringing with him his crew chief Tom Houseworth and mechanic Gregory Wood, both of whom are regarded as being crucial to Spies' success in World Superbikes. Bringing House and Woody was almost certainly one of Spies' main prerequisites for moving up to the MotoGP class.