Bombshell: Ben Spies Announces He Will Be Leaving Yamaha At End Of 2012

Ben Spies will be leaving Yamaha at the end of this season. The American made the shock announcement via email to the US racing website earlier on Tuesday, stating that he would be leaving Yamaha "for a litany of reasons", though unwilling to list them until a more "appropriate" moment. Spies made no announcement on where he would be racing, saying only that he was discussing his situation with his sponsors.

Spies' announcement has shocked the MotoGP paddock, taking even seasoned US journalists who know the Texan well by surprise. Spies was believed to still be in the frame for the second factory Yamaha seat in MotoGP, despite suffering through a miserable second year in the factory team. A series of problems - a broken subframe at Qatar, setup problems at Jerez, as well as a string of costly errors on Spies' own part - have seen the Texan score poorly all season, despite often showing well during qualifying. It was believed that Yamaha was waiting for a good result from Spies before making a decision on his future, but such a decision would have had to be made either at Laguna Seca or Indianapolis, the next two MotoGP rounds.

The timing of Spies' announcement is at best curious. The Laguna Seca event is one of the biggest events of the year for Yamaha, with the Japanese factory hosting several high-profile events featuring Yamaha's former and current stars. It was precisely for that reason that an announcement by Yamaha on Spies' future was not expected at Laguna, the Japanese firm not wishing to upset the distributor in one of their most important markets. By announcing now, Spies appears to be hoping to achieve the maximum impact, the news likely to have a negative effect on Yamaha's PR efforts over the next few days.

It is a sign that the relationship between Spies and the factory has grown strained over the past months. It was Yamaha that first brought Ben Spies to Europe, tempting him to leave the AMA where he was a multiple champion to join Yamaha's World Superbike squad. After an impressive year - Spies won the title in his very first year - the Texan made the jump to MotoGP, spending a strong year in the Tech 3 team, winning the Rookie of the Year title, before moving up to the factory Yamaha team. Last season, Spies became the first rider to win a dry race during the 800cc era other than MotoGP's Fearsome Foursome of Casey Stoner, Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa. 

Since the beginning of this season, relations have grown steadily worse. Spies was expected - and expected himself - to be regularly on the podium, and taking regular wins. Yet tensions have been growing, with reports of a general feeling that 'something was wrong' in Spies' side of the garage. The tension was doubtless fueled by speculation about Spies' future. One source close to Yamaha told me at Assen that Yamaha had planned to move Spies out of the factory team and back into the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team, his seat in the factory squad being taken either by Valentino Rossi or one of the two current Tech 3 riders, Cal Crutchlow or Andrea Dovizioso, both of whom have outperformed Spies so far this year. Spies may have decided to leave the factory team before being pushed, or he may have decided to leave due to a perceived lack of support. Another source reports that the control that Spies and his crew had over the setup of their bike was limited, with Yamaha asking the Texan to help test parts for Lorenzo's title chase. Whether these reports are true or not, Spies' real reasons for leaving will only come out once the Texan has left the team, and once his contract expires at the end of 2012.

Where Spies goes now is more of a mystery. His announcement talks of "leaving Yamaha", which would rule out a return to Tech 3. The LCR Honda seat is already taken by Stefan Bradl, and the Gresini team have continued to push for an Italian rider to help with their sponsor, Italian snack manufacturer San Carlo. Spies' name has not been mentioned in connection with Ducati, which would appear to mean that Spies is set to quit MotoGP altogether. A return to World Superbikes is a possibility: the Texan is currently being linked with a ride with BMW in the Goldbet BMW Italia team for next season. This could also open the way for a return to MotoGP in the future, with BMW believed to be currently working on entering the series and merely waiting for a stable set of rules to be announced for them to make their decision. The Suzuki squad is also an option, with Spies possibly returning to the AMA for a year and helping to develop Suzuki's MotoGP bike, slated for a return to the series in 2014. With Suzuki's new MotoGP machine an inline four, the experience Spies gained at Yamaha - also an inline four - would be invaluable.

With Spies' seat now officially vacant at the Factory Yamaha squad, speculation is intensifying on who will take the Texan's place. Much is being made of recent rumors of an imminent return to Yamaha by Valentino Rossi - as discussed here just yesterday - but the question is whether having Rossi alongside Jorge Lorenzo would help Yamaha win a title or would see the two riders taking points from each other and allowing Dani Pedrosa to sneak away with the title. Rossi is clearly the first option, with the two Monster Tech 3 Yamaha riders the alternative if Rossi stays at Ducati. So far, Andrea Dovizioso has outperformed Cal Crutchlow this season, taking four podiums where Crutchlow has fallen short. But Crutchlow has been a much bigger hit in the media than Dovizioso, generating a lot more publicity and column inches in the press for the factory.

Whatever the decision, the initial plan was to announce the second rider at Yamaha after Laguna Seca, with either Indianapolis or Brno being the prime candidates for the announcement to be made. Spies' decision may have forced Yamaha's hand, however, and we could learn who is to replace the Texan sooner than Yamaha had hoped.

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So disappointing, especially to us american gp fans. Ben's relationship with yamaha must really have cooled quickly to announce this right before Laguna. Really awkward. Seems like a big middle finger to Yamaha. Yamaha announced they would be shooting another promotional video in the next couple days with all four gp riders. Again, awkward.

I agree that Ben's timing and his wording seem to be giving the finger to Yamaha. If I were Ben's Mom, I'd be advising to learn from Rossi (regarding Honda) about NOT burning bridges. Ben seems to want to vent, and put his own spin on this deal, but burnt bridges are awfully hard to repair.

...... I was not expecting to be reading this the minute i got home.

Good luck Ben.

5 x AMA , 1 X WSB & MotoGP Rookie & race winner should have no problems finding a decent ride.

If he's going to help Suzuki's efforts, I'd rather see him take a ride with GRANDys in the Polish Championship than head back to AMA, which is currently a black hole of rider talent. He'll never get back out.

If he goes anywhere other than GP it'd be WSBK. He's not going back to a national series. No one there can afford him.

Ducati maybe?

....not really. He has truly been under performing from the start of the season and the speculation started, 'bout race 4, 'what if'! The real BIG question is 'what the hell happened?'. He obviously hasn't lost the talent to go fast, so something else has/is happening.....mentally/physically/??? to cause this huge shift/change in direction & focus. First, Casey announces his retirement ( quite frankly a staggering loss to MGP!!!) and now this. Hmmm.... I'm sure, David, you'll have more shortly. And guys, I'm NOT bashing Spies here....I'm an American and have watched him since he started in AMA SBK. I'm more flumoxed!

In your face!

Carlos Checa's season last year, everything went right and he won. This year, not so much. Ben's season has been cursed, some his fault, some not. Sometimes things just don't work. I have experienced it in several sports, sometimes you can do no wrong, other times no matter how much effort you put in, everything turns to scat and trying harder just makes it worse.

This does surely seem to be a nasty little maneuver aimed at Yamaha. Rossi burned his bridges at Honda and most likely it cost him a seat this year, though not one he wanted as he would not have been allowed to win as David has stated. I don't think Ben will be riding blue again any time soon. I suspect this season has lit a fire in him and he will be quite determined next season, whereever he lands. I am a Spies fan, more so for Nicky as he is practically local to me, but Ben is an American so ... He must have been quite bitter to make this move at this time. I don't recall any other move so blatantly "anti-former team" for lack of a better term.

Oh, I like Cal more, he is the more entertaining bloke, but Dovi deserves the ride.

Hasn't AD been hinting at a announcement at Laguna. If that is who they choose to replace him them I really can't under stand it. You replace a guy that has a legitimate MotoGP win with a guy that can't seem to finish higher than 4th on a Factory Honda when it WAS the best bike on the grid. He's done well in the last few races, but only because of others problems. Get ready for the Lorenzo,Pedrosa,Marquez podiums all year long next year. With AD in 4th on a good day.

Dovi had his years and failed to make anything of it. His spite is driving him a few KMPH faster these days, but put him on a factory ride and he'll ride around in the same position anyway.

Had his chance? So you only get one chance on one bike from one manufacturer? When was the last time someone put together that many podiums on a satellite bike. Rhetorical question if you have been reading the sites. He is gelling with the 1000cc Yamaha. Give him the ride! Crutchlow, did like him, now I wonder if he is just a blowhard? As Schwantz asked, "where are the results to claim you deserve the factory bike"? I told my friends 3 races into the season Spies would be gone without a big turnaround. I really don't understand how this could be a surprise? I just stated here 2 weeks ago, the factory expects results and he hasn't delivered. Bad luck, bad form, whatever, you don't deserve to be back. It's like quitting knowing your going to be fired anyway!

This about Dovi
"What??? Had his chance? So you only get one chance on one bike from one manufacturer?"

and in the same piece: this about Ben?
"Bad luck, bad form, whatever, you don't deserve to be back."

Nice work...

You do know the other team mate missed races with broken bones last year right?

That's part of racing at the edge. You want a guy who doesn't fall and has consistent results or a guy pushing the limit to win but may go too far and fall and miss races? If Pedrossa wasnt so injury prone you may be able to make a better case but at years end he was the last factory Repsol Honda in points.

Getting hurt and missing races is part of it. True. But to bring that up like Dovi did something special when DP missed 3 races and Dovi still only beat him by what 8 points overall is not looking at the real picture. With Dani out for 3 races, Dovi should've had at least one win if he was deserving of his ride at HRC. He didn't though.

Jarvis has stated that he want two riders capable of winning the championship. Moving Dovi up to the factory squad isn't going to get him this.

4th really? have you looked at last years resutls? 7 podium finishes for Dovi and 3rd overall only behind Casey and Lorezno. Ben 5th with 4 podiums, and yes one win he got the factory nod and they put faith in him over a year ago. but he has not perform if your player doesn't perform to expectations they get sent to the minors. "Ben fourth on a good day" here are his results this year:
11, 11, 8, 16, 10, 5, 4, 4, 11....

oh by the way Dovi has been on the podium 4 times this year, Cal and Ben none.

I see a clear performer here, time to clear the way for someone that can produce consistent results, and who cares what country they come from.

I don't care what country they come from if that's what you're insinuating. What I'm stating is my opinion on who should have that seat out of the current crop in GP now andI don't see Dovi being a title contender.

Since there's no rookie rule, I'd really like to see Yamaha pull one over and get Pol or Crazy Joe.

Checa is stil No.1 rider on Duce. We can all see how much down on power is 1198 this year. And Checa still hit a lot of victories this year with inferior bike. I don`t see the point in your comparison.

Yet wasn't Checa equally underpowered last year? Yet between the skill of the rider and the ease of use of the Duck, he pulled it off. This year, he is still doing well (and I still pull for him) but he's just not born under a star like he was last year.

Of course, if there are large differences in HP between the contenders between this year and last, my point is totally invalid.

Yes 1198 was always down on power compared to competition. But not so much as this year. Count in the restriction (air restriction and added weight coz of his victories) and you can see how hard is to follow the rest. I am not a fan of Checa, but I can see the difference this year. He is pushing that bike far beyond the limit. And this year: Checa 4 wins, 8 podiums, Biggi 4 wins, 8 podiums. Melandri 5 wins 8 podiums. So only reason he is so far back are crashes. He is pushing 1198 to much. Thats why so many crashes.

but i really don't get these attitudes these days... i just Hope Spies has a dam good reason to leave, such a waste of talent...

Whataf's goin on that everybody wants to leave MotoGP?

That's one of the reasons that so many love Nicky, he's a dam good fighter, even when things don't go his way. balls!

I have heard that Spies has gotten so into bicycles that he may persue that route? It's truly strange time for the announcment like this - A big f-you to Yamaha on the eve of the US rounds is what it seems like.

If you look at his photos from his watch release yesterday neither he nor his bike had yamaha anywhere on it.

I am sorry to see ben go - it sure seems like something has been wrong from the begining of the year. I was scratching my head as he refered to his loss of confidence early in the year.... like you lost the last race of the year by a fraction of a second.

It will be very interesting to see what happens, but as an american I am sorry to see him go.

Spies seems to have checkmated Yamaha. And if all this was due to the fact that Rossi is going back to Yamaha, then nothing can be sadder. Spies did have a decent first season on the factory Yamaha and a not so good first half this year. That would have been no reason to fire him since his bad performances were not all due to his fault. MotoGP must invest in the future and not in the past and if Yamaha have forced Spies to quit for the sake of Valentino Rossi, it is a matter of great shame, just like Mercedes bringing Michael Schumacher out of retirement to prove that he just does not have it in him to win anymore. Rossi should either continue with Ducati or retire (that for me is the best option since there are so many people waiting to break into MotoGP and Rossi has nothing to prove except that me may not be as great as people made him to be). All in all bad for MotoGP that younger talent like Stoner and Spies are leaving and the old tired ones are still hanging around proving nothing.

OK, I understand Spies have problems. But no matter what he should get at least one podium so far. What ever happend to him.. few of the races ware technical problems. But few of themn ware pure and big mistakes. He is riding N0. 1 bike in MotoGP at this moment. Sorry but I understand Yamaha.

But few of themn ware pure and big mistakes...

I can think of one where he over cooked it when he tried too hard, and a fourth place (which isn't terrible), but the rest were pretty much out of his control.

You must be confused.
This is people's lives and carrer, not some tv show that we like to see on sunday. So maybe the decision to retire or evaluate what to do, shoulb be up to them, and not me and you.
I, for one, think that we should just be grateful that these guys are still around.

I could be wrong but the bit about Yamaha limiting the setup of the bike sounds awfully true from what I've seen and read this year. Clearly something has been going on behind closed doors and we aren't privy to that information yet.

Where is the value of Yamaha tuning their second riders setup to be slower than Jorges, Dovi's and Cals? Sure I can see them asking him to try something in free practice or testing to probably validate a direction they might like to take on Jorges bike, but race and quali setup are down to the rider and his crew chief. Whatever the issues are between team and rider its a sad state of affairs.

off the guy they're backing to win the title. Its not conspiracy, it happens all the time in the top eschelons of motorsport. Yamaha knew they were going to have to pull out all the stops to beat Stoner and Honda this year, and they knew Jorge would be the guy capable of taking the title, not Spies. But Spies was expected to be pretty quick this year and had potential to take points from Jorge at some races which Yamaha would have decided they could not afford. So Spies's 'setup options' have been limited by Yamaha to avoid that happening. This is the only explanation that explains consistently woeful performances this year after his consitently excellent results last year, even though the switch to 1000cc bikes was expected to suit him and he was extremely quick in pre season testing. Yes he's had some issues of his own making but the unexpected drop off in races is happenjng too often to be coinicidence.

There is also another aspect, although we are rapidly approaching conspiracy theorist territory here. ;)
In the excellent interview that cyclenews did with Paolo Flammini, there is a question regarding the performance balancing system that was introduced to level the playing field:

"But then Carlos Checa goes and wins a World Championship in 2011 on an obsolescent twin-cylinder motorcycle, but without any other such bike going equally fast, so this balance system was not triggered."

Page 73,

I have no problem whatsoever imagining that the mediocre performance of the other Ducatis compared to Checa's dominance wasn't coincidental.
It just makes too much sense.
Flamminis answer also reveals, that the performance reduction would have already been applied in 2011, but didn't, because the system was designed for more twin-cylinders than were fielded in 2011.

So that's another explanation. By not having your number 2 rider perform you can always say "look, our bike isn't dominating, it's just due to the rider, he is just so good" (which is true for Lorenzo, no doubt. But I think everybody agrees that Spies is way better than he was able to show).
This way, the series organizers are not as prone to change the rules to penalize your bike.

If you think about what went wrong in Spies' team, it's just unbelievable on a level where each race costs millions. Just think about the clamp that was forgotten on the brake lever or the broken subframe that wasn't detected. Ridiculous.
I'm not going so far as to blame the double food-poisoning on Yamaha sabotage, though. ;)

So, Yamaha builds a multimillion dollar bike, pays some guy millions to ride it and then sabotages it to go slow which allows the Hondas and Ducatis more points.

Got it.

Shall our next topic be the moon landing or 911?

Welcome to motomatters Mr. Jarvis! :P
Just kidding. I think Yamaha doesn't have to be too worried about points this year, with Honda struggling with the softer tires and Ducati taking itself out of the equation.
And I really do believe stuff like this is possible. Maybe you have heard of the incident where the team-boss of Renault in Formula 1 ordered the no. 2 rider to deliberately crash into a wall, so his teammate could take advantage of the safety car period and win (Singapore 2008).
I think Hayden or Edwards have a thing or two to say about how life is as a no. 2 rider when the manufacturer is focusing efforts on the other rider.

At the end of last season, and at the beginning of this one, Lin Jarvis stated they expected Ben to consistently score podiums and fight for victories. Yamaha want to win the triple crown, as they did from 2008-2010, and this would not be possible without consistent strong results from Spies.

So to say that the factory is limiting Spies' setup, etc., is just closing your eyes to the truth that Ben has been a complete disappointment this year. No fighting spirit, no consistency, no clue.

Maybe it really is laughable. But maybe Yamaha just doesn't have to care that much about the points the no. 2 rider brings in, as long as no. 1 performs:

"For Constructors, only the highest placed motorcycle of a Constructor will gain points, according to the position in the race."

You are right about the Team Championship (and thus the triple crown), where both riders count. Maybe they decided to be content with a double crown this year.
But whatever, _if_ there really was deliberate interference with Spies' performance, we will probably never know.
I sure believe it's possible.

OK, I can believe that Yamaha helps the guy who is going to win championship. But not as far as sending Spies on the last place in championship standings. Let say your primary rider has big crash. And he is out for few months. That is almost half a season. So at the end of a season you have: 1.Honda, 2.Honda, 3. Satellite Yamaha, 4. Satellite Yamaha, 5. Satellite Honda .... That is absurd. If you would like to make conspiracy theory, then make something that has any sense.

Considering the tone from Jarvis starting with I believe the third race, he's been making it pretty clear he was disgusted with Spies' performance, so I can only imagine how things have been in the garage. Granted, Ben seems to have some excuse for every race, and when he starts well and fades back, that's got to be hard to watch as a team principal, not to mention seeing the satellite boys outscoring him every race. I imagine it has been a "less than friendly" atmosphere towards Ben at Yamaha for him to come out like this. As someone who has followed him up through the ranks in AMA to MGP I'd have to say this is quite out of character.
Maybe he'll grab a seat next to Sykes in WBSK. . . . . .

What is the next bombshell?

- Stoner changes his mind and go to Yamaha?

- BMW decide to enter MotoGP in 2013 instead of 2014?

- Suzuki decide to enter MotoGP in 2013 instead of 2014?

- Yamaha returns in SBK with Ben Spies?

- Nick Hayden take second seat at Factory Yamaha?


Crazy year.

"Another source reports that the control that Spies and his crew had over the setup of their bike was limited, with Yamaha asking the Texan to help test parts for Lorenzo's title chase."

This reminds me so much of Rossi and Edwards. One candidate for the title and one guinea pig, Yamaha's old strategy. I thought that Honda is only "evil" manufacturer.

Seems reasonable to me, for whatever reason he aint produced the goods.
So, Heyden to Yamaha, Crutchlow to Ducati, Rossi and Dovi to stay put.
How does that sound? :-))

Yamaha have been hanging him out to dry while quickly putting a 2 year deal in Lorenzo's pocket. Spies was going to find himself still dangling while all the real seats are taken, then what? A CRT bike? As they say on the internets.. LOL

Ben : "maybe nothing changes except to be back were we are meant to be"

Please, Gods of Racing, make this mean Suzuki is going to field a GP bike and not that he is going back to AMA to race some gsx-r in some parking lot that no one gives a damn about.

Yamaha have been hanging him out to dry

How do you figure that? How has Spies' on-track performance merited another contract? Why is Yamaha's decision to re-sign Lorenzo -- a no-brainer if there ever was one -- an issue in your mind at all?

If anything, Spies 'hung himself out to dry' with his poor performances this year. Made to look all the worse by Lorenzo's domination on the same bike, and Spies being beaten consistently by the Tech 3 guys on inferior satellite machinery.

Anyway, who knows what really went down? A good assumption is that the relationship has really soured, but Spies' racing problems may not be the only reason for that, and it could well be unpublicized issues have contributed to his surprisingly poor showing this year.

Stay tuned...

If Spies appears to be hoping to achieve the maximum impact, to have a negative effect on Yamaha's PR. Will this make other manufacturers are afraid to hire him?

Maybe Spies sees where MotoGP is heading, much like Stoner has hinted all pre-season and during this season. Or maybe Spies has become to distracted by his bicycle team? Or maybe he is just not into racing in MotoGP anymore. Who knows. Hopefully this winter he'll give a few interviews and shed some light onto his decision.

I think a lot of American fans were waiting for the next great American rider and we thought Spies was it. His season has been horrible and his explanations come off as whiny excuses. But who knows what goes on in the paddock.

Just another reason to not watch MotoGP next year........

If only Spies, Edwards and Hayden would jump to WSBK.....

From what I have heard spies is the one who has left the team ,,the Yamaha factory haven't made a decision yet.. Probably after laguna or Indy,, but spies posted on a twitter site saying he was pulling out after the season.. Anyways I'm a Texan I support all the us riders , but of course my main dude is Valentino .. I would like Nicky to stay cause he does deserve the Ducati seat..
Ben hasn't really shown good form besides his only victory at assen.. He is a good rider, but in motogp u can't be struggling every season u have to improve explain to me how Stefan Bradl is doing way better than spies even on his rookie year with the factory Yamaha , aside from assen wich I'm sure Bradl will win a race by the end of the season or get a cpl podiums next year... I think Ben should go to wsbk and partner Melandri even thou Melandri belongs in motogp.. And tear it up.. Anyways will see how the rest of the season plans out,, and I hope Rossi goes to the factory Yamaha team against Lorenzo and battle the 2013 season for the title as it will be Rossi last change for a title..

Yeah, I think Marco belongs in Moto GP too. I know Haslam is no slouch, but Marco has been outperforming him all year and nobody else has won a race on the BMW.

that Spies cares a whit about the state of MotoGP as Stoner says he does. I suspect Ben's discontent is more of a personal nature with him, some faux pas by the team, the helmet, the tire and yes, his own mistakes. When things go wrong, you need the full support of your team. I can only speculate how bad the atmosphere must have been in his team for him to well and truly show his hiney to Yamaha, to put it crudely.

for Yamaha to hire Rossi. With Stoner gone, they have next to a lock on the title next year. You want your 2 time champ focused and content, not pissed off and that is surely the effect of hiring Rossi would be on Jorge.

Rossi and Lorenzo on factory Yamaha are bad idea. They will try to kill each other. That is open window for Dani. No, I don`t think that Rossi in Yamaha camp is real option.

isn't going to result in Dani-Repsol getting the title, it's going to mean
1-2 Yamaha for every race next year :-)

More likley scenario is: Race 1. Lorenzo 1, Dani 2, Rossi 3. Race 2: Rossi 1, Dani 2, Lorenzo in gravel. Race 3: Lorenzo 1, Dani 2, Rossi in gravel. Race 4: 1 Dani, Rossi and Lorenzo in gravel. Sachenring: 1 Dani, 2 Rossi or Lorenzo.... If you have 2 insanely fast drivers in your team and both have to show they are the best ..... You can get out of this if you don`t have another strong bike/driver among the competition which is also very fast. Like times with Doohan and Criville. But now? No. Rossi has to much ti prove. Lorenzo has to much ti prove against Rossi. It is personal. Margin for error with Dani behind is slim. And he can be as fast as those two. All he need is some mental strength and opportunity. Opportunity that quarrel between the two will provide.

My view.

If and that's a big if Rossi can do it, and I don't think so. Rossi will be second violin in Yamaha!

I don`t think Rossi is out. He show us that in crazy wet race. I think that guy is still in the game.

He is the fastest guy on Ducati. So why.. he is riding terrible?

That wet race show us the rider.

In wet all that bike superiority goes away. We saw that with Schwantz on Suzuki.


when was Rossi the fastest on the Ducati, two races ago he was 3rd fastest duke out of 4. a better result last time but only just.

Where I come from we call people like you trolls. They write things only to see the reaction from others while making an ass of them selfs.

This quote is all I needed to read.

"maybe nothing changes except to be back were we are meant to be"

Suzuki coming back with Ben Spies seems like the best scenario possible for all parties involved, including MotoGP as a series.

Like Les says, if there is a God of Racing...

The reason I even look at this as a likely scenario is the proposed Spec ECU. It should mean someone other than Honda and Yamaha have a chance to compete for wins.

And for those who seem to think Spies shouldn't have made the announcement like he did, then you need to think back to the beginning of the year when Mr. Jarvis all but called Spies a disappointing failure in public. If you can dish it out, then you should be able to take it too. Sorry buttercup, but that's the business of racing.

True. But lets be real for a second. This is Spies current level.

I know all of you will try to smash my head, but that is what Ben Spies is currently showing.

MotoGP is an uncompromising sport.

May be that announcement give him some room to breathe. And punch back in next few races.

Until then, he is driving same NO. 1 bike as Lorenzo, but he is on opposite end of the scale.

I don`t know why everyone is so angry?


Mesoreznica, you think that this is Ben's current level, but Valentino is still in the game because Le Mans. Strange.

Rossi is the fastest in Ducati Camp. Spies is the slowest in Yamaha camp including satellite teams.

What I am missing out?


the Suzuki chassis will be anywhere near as sorted as the current "king of sort" Yamaha. Spies is certainly talendted and have a HUGE chip on his shoulder though!

A spec ECU will level the playing field as far as electronics but that will make chassis setup all the more important and surely at least Yamaha has that head and shoulders over all the rest. And so did Honda, at least until the new "Honda killer" Bridgestone tire came out. I thought with Stoner's dominance last year, he was a lock for the title again this year. Shows what I know!

This shows you that even Casey need bike with some edge to win. In 2007 Ducati had that edge. Raw power. Sure, you would have to be great rider to exploit this power... and Casey was able to do that. Now ... difference in power between Honda, Yamaha and Ducati is insignificante. So you still need something to do something.

Judging from Spies tweets yesterday he is going back to Suzuki for sure ;-)

He's been a sponsor's dream in the past. And the season has a long way to go. So whatever has happened between Ben and Yamaha it must have been completely off the scale. But he doesn't seem like an impulsive character. Which suggests to me that he's got a really good offer from a different factory squad with long term plans in his back pocket. My heart says Suzuki; my head says BMW.

...everything that went into this decision.

So whatever has happened between Ben and Yamaha it must have been completely off the scale.

But in all fairness it must be mentioned that given his competitive results this season, Yamaha had good reasons to be dissatisfied with Spies. So that's one thing that definitely "happened" (or didn't, depending on how you want to look at it).

A shame all around. But it just wasn't working anymore. And never really seemed to work as well as I'm sure everyone hoped.

Would be great for Spies to land in a good place and to see him racing up at the front again soon.

I have not the faintest clue of what to say. Gosh.

It was expected, but the opposite way around. That is, I thought that Yamaha would be giving Ben the boot, not him saying, "Ciao, I'm outa here!" and giving them the finger on the way out.

If that report regarding Yamah giving Spies parts to test for Jorge is true, then it is an injustice on so many levels and I will be utterly disgusted with them.

Go back to World Superbikes, Ben - maybe there they will appreciate your talent.

Or you could stick around in MotoGP and win the championship next year just to prove them all wrong.

the opposite way around

Maybe Spies quit before he was fired. Who knows? More info will no doubt come out in the days ahead.

Spies back to WSBK on a BMW is gonna be awesome.
He's gonna enjoy racing again and him and Melandri are gonna be all over the podiums!
Though I'd like to see Hayden get a Yamaha for 2013 I don't see it happening, but I don't see Rossi at Yam neither, for me it's gonna be one of the Tech3 boys.

I don't see how Suzuki could win with Spies. I mean a bike right out of the box isn't going to be a winner or a top three for at least a couple of years. Makes no sense.

And the slight given to Stoner in a post a couple above this post............get your head screwed on right. Stoner WON on the Ducati after 2007 and won more than that constant complainer that rides the Ducati these days. I said WON as in winning races, being on the pole more times than you can count and podiums out the rear end along with fastest lap in too many races to count. Stoner needed a "edge'', pure fantasy. Stoner was and IS the EDGE.

Best to Spies in his future. Ran those euro riders to a ragged edge in his first year in WSBK. Then again WSBK riders in euroland are not all that great in the first place.

it's kinda strange. i agree with " the control that Spies and his crew had over the setup of their bike was limited..." coz this season ben never ride like last year, something wrong deffinitely.
he is one of my favorite rider to be in top 5, but somehow things had changed there.
well we'll know what happen actually when ben speaks. soon i hope, coz I'm deadly curious.

it was looking like that every time in garage coverage. Body language was pure 'leave me alone'. Why? Only he knows. It has started somehere around Sic's accident in my opinion.
Now as some people here suggesting they can smell Suzuki's comeback sooner it would be actually great idea to see Spies building motogp team/bike from scratch. If Suzuki is just fans rumour there can be some switches in Ducati or Honda (LCR, Gresini?) or CRT but I doubt he will choose Duc or any crt project. If he thinks about WSBK it also doesn't look good being in Suzuki as they are weak and it isn't up to Hopkins or Camier inability. Just lack of resources and support. They need to shake up but I doubt it would come with Spies alone.
From marketing point of view the best choice would be to join Kawasaki (yes, a BIG USA motorcycle player). Kawasaki would enter WSBK again with 3 bikes or turn to 2 teams with Sykes/Spies and second with Baz/*. Spies would become somebody Melandri was meant to be in his short Kawasaki contribution...But WSBK is more open: Ten Kate Honda, bunch of free Ducatis, Aprilias, BMWs are waiting.

MotoGP - Suzuki :)
WSBK - more real - Kawasaki
that's my bet.

When I realized Ben was going to MotoGP, besides jumping for joy, I said "hell yeah, mentally he is a rock... after dealing with Maladin and dominating WSBK in his rookie year, he is going to really have a shot at this"...

First year in MotoGP, pretty much confirmed my opinion, steady progress, good results...

Second year, yeah not as much as I had hoped for, but hey he is new to a factory GP team, just wait till he is settled.

This year, he is gonna be there!!!........ wait, what... qualified well... race: go backwards, and backwards, and backwards.... what?

This is not the Ben I know.

My point is... I don't have a clue what is wrong, but there has to be something going on besides him wanting to ride bicycles or having a mentally weak year. That is just not the Ben Spies I have watched for years! One or two races sure, but a whole year on the best bike on the grid, and being beaten by a satellite guy (Dovi) that Ben beat, in his rookie year, while he was on a satellite bike, something's going on, or else he is really really unhappy

I expect it is more a big F you to Dorna. When Dorna is actively campaigning to move Rossi to Yamaha and take Marlboro from Ducati in the process it says to all other riders that they are nothing but grid fillers.

MotoGP has zero credibility and Spies is doing what Stoner did and turn his back on the sport as it descends into motorsport's version of WWF.

The biggest surprise is how much this has been outside of Spies' character. I rembemer being at Laguna during the WSB days. Spies was talking with Troy Corser and he seemed to be almost embarrased to speak with a fan and walked away. He had been a pretty quiet guy. From his AMA 600 days to now, one would be hard pressed to hear negative things about Ben.

This leads me to believe that either sources in the Yamaha head office or a US vs Euro/Japan battle was brewing. It could be just horrible advice from within Ben's camp. The biggest problem I see is burning bridges with so few alternatives in MotoGP.

I am sure Spies is smart enough to have a plan. Not sure where that leaves Houseworth and exactly where he fits into this whole senerio. I believe I heard Yoshimura's Peter Doyle say they no longer hold the status with the Suzuki factory they once did. The AMA's level of equipment isn't that important anymore. Suzuki's WSB effort is nonexistant. Any effot Suzuki would have at the MGP level will take several seasons to beat HRC and Yamaha if ever. But in then end, I give props to any man in a good spot that can walk away on his own two feet instead of begging to stay on his knees.

What are the chances that Kevin, Ben and Mr. Suzuki (and the kind folks at VW that own ~20% stake, oh - and Ducati is in VW's holdings) get together to race in a season or two. #34, a fellow Texan, has stayed involved with MotoGP and I think has wanted to manage a team. He also has some control of the Austin, TX track that was to hold the 3rd American round in 2013?

Even when racing against Matt Maladin in AMA, the teammates worked together until race day. The politics between the two team mates in grand prix may be very different then what Ben, and his support team of mechanics experienced in Tech 3 or WSB. Rossi and JayLo had a wall, Ben does not. So his poor performance is in part his own, but sending him out on a bike with a broken frame when he did not want to use it early in the season was the start of marriage trouble. For whatever reason, everyone expected Ben to do better and he has not. Time to move on. Ben may be less giving the finger than Yamahahahaing before they announce his replacement and he has to react.

I'd much rather see him give his current employer the finger by winning on the way out the door.

...Calling the AMA series a blackhole of rider talent is the most ridiculous statement I've seen lately (and I've seen some really stupid ones). Wish they could run the Trans-Atlantic Match Races in this day and time and we would see whose hole was blackest...

As much as I would love to agree with you, and I would not call AMA a black hole... who do you see in the American pipeline worthy of MotoGP?

Eslick, Herrin, Young, Beaubier, Gagne?

Imagine seeing those guys going against Jorge and Dani? Nooooo way

I hope I am wrong, but I do not see AMA producing a GP worthy rider for a while. Maybe a CRT worthy rider, but not a factory prototype ride, Ben was our last hope for awhile I think.

How many riders have escaped the gravitational pull of the AMA black hole and headed to higher level championships like WSBK or MotoGP and had success?? I had great hopes for Ben but he hasn't delivered in MotoGP after a stellar season in WSBK - and I for one definitely thought he was the real deal. And he is by far the best talent to come out of AMA Superbikes in many years, and streets ahead of those going around there now. Have a look at the last few years in AMA, now dominated by a 37 year old guy, with a 29 year old guy occasionally giving it to him.
If Josh and Roger are your reps for a TransAtlantic race, you'd get flogged by a country mile.

Spain has Monlau Competicion to groom and raise riders, and we have AMA SBK, owned and run by the same org that brings you NASCAR.

I'm American and have no trouble admitting our moto road racing eco system is utter shiite.

Now if you want to talk MX... well, without bragging too much, it's the best in the world. Our guys hand it to the Europeans in MX des nations how many years in a row now?

The top Europeans and Africans struggle to win races in US as well.

It's one feather in our cap.

I always wondered what the big deal was about Spies. Sure he has talent or maybe determination is the better word - it sure doesn't come as easy to him as it does the Spanish guys or Stoner. His interviews are some of the most bland, uninspiring, and cookie cutter i have ever seen and even when he flashes a brief smile it seems forced and acted - like he'd rather not be personable. THAT is the real PR nightmare Yamaha has.

Yamaha realized this guy is not going to get better anymore and is, frankly, a one- dimensional, bland character. I guess the one good thing for Spies is that he saw it coming and decided to make the decision that Yamaha was going to make inevitably later in the season. Don't get me wrong - i'm American and like to see Americans do well - Spies just simply doesn't "have it". I have more respect for Hayden, although if I were Ducati I wouldn't keep him in MotoGP either. Both Spies and Hayden should go to WSBK - and they should take Rossi with them. Look at the great run Biaggi, Checa etc, have in that very entertaining series.

Move more young riders up from Moto2 to replace the likes of Rossi, etc. - I'm talking Pol Espargaro, Iannone, Redding, etc.

I wouldn't go as far as saying he doesn't "have it". He is after all the only other pilot to win a race in the last what, 4 years other than Rossi,Stoner,Pedrosa and Lorenzo. That there say's a lot. He's having a terrible start to the year and who really knows what exactly is happing. Maybe he's just not comfortable, maybe it's Yamaha making him test parts.Hell, it might be down to Houseworth just not being the guy he needs anymore. There are a lot of factors we will never know(unless he writes a book like Rossi). He has the right stuff to be there, he just needs to get his shit together and perform.

On the point of him being dull. He is. He has been this way since I have seen him in the AMA. Very quite and while that's respectable. It doesn't get you noticed or making news. Look at Cal, he's got a mouth any mother would be ashamed of but has has personality oozing out his pours. This is what GP needs.

MotoGP takes a combination of talent, determination, the right sponsors/ bike, PR skills, adaptability, and (race) intelligence. Spies had a very good race winning ride for two years but was consistently outperformed by a vastly superior Lorenzo. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that he is lacking in one of the other areas I described above (other than the bike) which means he doesn' t have "it"; is not the "total package" or whatever you want to call it - one measily win is simply not enough on that bike...

It's easy to use the interwebs.

Dovizioso won a race at Donington in 2009.

Ah yes, the race in the mostly wet conditions where rossi fell, lorenzo fell and the factory ducati's were lapped. All because of Dovi's talent :)

I also can't wait to get Marquez in the GP paddock. He has a "I'm here to race, fuck off attitude" This is what GP needs. Not this friends on track and off track bullshit. Everyone needs to get along but when MM gets there. The current Spanish armada is going to be upset at his "antics"

Man up!! This is bike racing at it's highest level.

That's why Simoncelli is missed so much in the paddock, a wild card, a loose cannon if you will. I'm not advocating more dangerous riding but the Pedrosa's of this world are just too PC. Lorenzo on the other hand has a ruthless streak - that will be interesting with Marquez. Please bring up Pol Espargaro and Iannone as well. Pol is extremely talented (much more than his brother Aleix) and he is unpredictable to boot. Iannone never disappoints in effort and well, a little crazy-ness - that's what MotoGP needs!

Put Pol and Iannone on the tech 3 bikes currently driven by Dovi and Cal and they would get the same or better results! MotoGP is a lot like F1 these days - if you don't have the right machinery you're screwed. Worse, while Cal and Dovi are decent riders they are not the 4th - 5th best riders out there (as their classifications would suggest) - they merely have the 4th-5th best machinery - people forget about that - Hector Barbera would even be Top 5 material on the Tech 3 of this season as Barbera is actually a decent, determined rider if you give him a decent bike to prove his skills on.

Spies on the other hand failed in comparison with his team-mate Lorenzo who will dominate this class by the way for years to come. Spies had a shot with one of the best bikes on he grid for two years - that's an eternity in MotoGP.

Put Pol on the factory Yamaha or at least the Tech 3 and give Iannone a shot on the Duc or some satellite squad. CRT unfortunately is the kiss of death. Bikes suck and everyone immediately thinks you suck too - like driving a Marussia or HRT in F1

Suzuki & VW was an unhappy marriage ending in arbitration with Suzuki lodging a legal bid for return of the shares sold to VW. It's not practical to assume Ducati and Suzuki being connected by common ownership.

I thought that Suzuki was trying to back out, but their corporate homepage, company profile here
still lists VW as owning 19.89% equity state as of the report in 2011. So I am making a leap on cooperation, but just stating the evidence as I found it when I looked today. What about the "Pepsi Challenge" with #34 being involved? (VW does not own much PepsiCo stock as far as Google knows ;-)

Maybe Ben (and Casey) has just got fed up and sick and tired of playing the political games associated with MotoGP.

Have you ever wondered why a rider on a factory or satellite machine always seem to do very well at their "home" race. You are kidding yourself if you think it is because they are more motivated at that race.

Riders want competitive machinery with the possibility of winning races. When the team owners/managers and their billionaire/millionaire bosses stack the deck to ensure their investment is protected or their national ego is stroked it is hard for a true racer that is not one of the “anointed and appointed” to stomach the paradigm that is stacked against you.

I hope that Ben is destined for the new Suzuki currently in development. He is deserving of a team that fully supports a rider of his caliber and doesn’t treat him as a “#2” team member.

I'm so tired of people whining about the current state of the MotoGP and how much work the riders have to do except riding. The factories favouring some riders and so on. Buuhu!

Making millions a year and as soon as something is tuff riders like Ben and Casey blames everybody else, pack their bags and goes home.

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!

How exactly do they stack the deck? Do they put a potato in the pipe? Do they relabel the sprockets? Replace the chain lub with super glue?


No silly boy, they just ignore your inputs and requests - while at the same time giving their "#1" rider everything he asks for.

I'm not saying they do it, but it is easily done with electronics, if they were so inclined. knock a few revs off the top, tame down the fuelling and ignition maps "for reliability" etc.

Had to dig some, Here is video of the chatter on Spies bike and references to his twitter feed where he claims that the team would not allow a replacement frame to be used. So it may not be just electronics, but any part that costs the team lots of money, time, or other limited resources.

MotoGP Racer Salary: $$$$
MotoGP bike parts: $$$$$$
wrecked frame: price Les

Fact is no one who is allowed to talk about it knows what has transpired there. Something has been amiss all season at Yamaha, that much is clear. Whether it be his crew, management or factory staff, something just hasn't been in sync all year. Ben has shown that he is still fast simply by leading qualifying sessions and races this year, the latter is something that neither of the Tech 3 guys can say despite their ultimately superior results. Whatever happens, if he leaves MotoGP there is going to be a hole that may take years to fill! Ben is/was the most Promising US rider to come along since Nicky Hayden and it saddens me to say that there really aren't many quality International opportunities for the young guys from the AMA in the first place. Just look at Ben. He had to bight the bullet and go to WSBK in 2009 after putting in a couple of great rides on the Suzuki MotoGP bike and getting tossed for it. Yamaha offered WSBK and he accepted, the rest is History! Best of Luck moving forward Ben I hope you have something big to announce here shortly!

A few things:

1. I love Ben, great guy, polite and never a prima dona. I feel super sorry for him, failing/not succeeding in public cannot be a great feeling. I wish him all the success wherever he goes. It appears to me that some riders are just not suited to Motogp.

2. I really hope Ben hasn't done this to have a go at Yamaha. It would disappoint me and my opinion of him. TBH Ben just hasn't been performing by several orders of magnitude while riding the sweetest handling bike. This is to say you can't blame Yamaha in anyway.

3. People claiming Yamaha treated Ben like test rider or didn't give him the best stuff, very very unlikely. Ben was doing so badly that they didn't need to ensure that Lorenzo scored the points. If anything Yammaha would be doing everything to help Ben go faster to do his job taking points off Casey & Dani. Yamaha is a dispassionate corporation and so the emotions are mostly taken out when making decisions (unlike riders). Yamaha has its eye on the prize would championships.

your #3: so why send him out on the bike that just wrecked? and the frame ends up being cracked? Why continue to make loads of everything if Ben has no chance of winning the championship this season and testing needs to be done? two too many "very"s for me to not reply... and put some of the blame on Yamaha.

The rookie rule is gone for next year for a Spanish rider to jump up to a full factory ride. The same rule that was put into place to prevent Ben Spies from going to a full factory ride his rookie MotoGP season.

I think he was not referring to Super Sic, but was referring to the gentleman from Spain whom that rule was pulled for this year by the Spanish sponsors Dorna and Repsol. Marco Simoncelli lives on as an Italian icon. RIP #58.

He should be happy to have a chance to ride Dovisioso's bike. If he's a better rider than Andrea, he could be putting it on the top step!

I hope he gets his world straight, but his problems this year lie primarily between the ears. No use placing blame anywhere else. It just doesn't add up.

Yosh needs to put a bike on top at Suzuka next year and Ben is the guy to do it.

If Rossi does go back to Yamaha given this new info, then i think he will be a renewed man. Imagine the confidence he'll get from stepping off the rubbish duke onto the silky smooth Yam, he'll feel as fast as ever.

Other riders beware.

I think he'd do well. Do better for certain.

I have great appreciation for Rossi's performances over the last 15 or so years. I'd probably be classified as a Rossi fan. But this Ducati experience has helped me come to terms with the fact that he won't be great forever.

If he wins again it will be sweet. I'll jump up and down and cheer. Though there are no guarantees that he'll do any better than the other non-JL Yamaha riders, or JL himself.

Seems unlikely.

If he goes back to Yamaha factory he'll be straight up against George and I think that might be rather embarrassing at this stage.

Ben Spies walked away from Yamaha before he was given his walking papers. It looks better to his sponsors this way. Ben under performed and how many excuses (true or not) is the guy gonna get? Yamaha wants results. End of story. He's anything but personable. He's PURE VANILLA. His mama controls everything - doesn't allow him to interact w/fans after races and sends him off on his little scooter. His interviews are as bland as oatmeal. He's not a people person and puts in little to no effort to show fan appreciation. Yamaha was going to dump an American. That is huge and it speaks volumes. Ben doesn't carry the same pompous attitude as Cal Crutchlow, who seemingly thinks he's earned a right to a factory bike when the guy doesn't even have a podium to brag about, but Ben does carry a bit of the Casey Stoner, "let me ride and I have no interest in PR or the fans" attitude. Sure this isnt the reason Ben was gonna get dumped, but at the end of the day, maybe, just maybe, if he had the same fan friendly attitude as Hayden, things could be different. Ben had nothing go for him but a couple of podiums. Sorry, it's not enough to play with the big boys when you have absolutely nothing else to offer. Too bad the guy couldn't have broken out some rainbow sprinkles every so often.

I heard that the new Suzuki Gixxer will have a cross plane crankshaft next year? Suzuki are going to want to win on that in America. I also wonder if Ben has started to just get real homesick for the States? Remember, Mladin went to AMA after MotoGP and then dominated for several years, while earning way more money.
I don't think AMA is a 'black hole' ...if you were a late twenties racer, clearly never going to win the World MotoGP title, could earn more money at home without the traveling and politics, and you knew you were good enough to dominate a series... wouldn't you do it? Ben has his restaurant, his bicycle team, a new girlfriend (I think), and the ultimate vacation home in Lake Como.
The answer seems obvious to me, especially based on his 'back where I should be' comment. I don't think he's just referring to a brand of motorcycle.
Ben in AMA on Suzuki in 2013 and MAYBE a return to MotoGP on Suzuki in 2014; otherwise staying put and earning more money than all the rest of us put together.

So... Eric Buell wants to go World Superbike racing... Just got $20 million (US)... To build a cheaper bike (about $20k) that will allow him to meet the homologation rules (1000 bikes).

He and Ben get together, and go have some fun spending Indian cash...

Unlikely, but I posted it first... I think...

We saw that a few years back - what if Dovi, who came into MotoGP at the same time as Lorenzo has actually improved over time - folks assume that just because he couldn't beat Stoner on the HRC that maybe the Honda wasn't his cup of tea - consider that maybe, just maybe dovi likes the Yamaha better and is more experienced and got better, figure that. I think he deserves another shot on a factory bike - him over Cal who needs to score a few podiums...

Look - my first preference would be to get Pol and Iannone over in MotoGP asap on a competitive bike along with Marquez ( and Maverick in two years) - but to talk about Dovi at 26 years old as a has been or eternal no 2 is too early - I really like his grit on the tech 3 and he could be Yamaha's best option

Maybe it's not just Ben's performance and attitude but that of the entourage as well that's causing problems at Yamaha.

Jarvis was quite clear after the final round of motogp last year that Ben was expected to be more than simply competitive, he was expected to be fighting for the win not just the podium, its unsurprising if we consider his comments.

Rossi left because he was not liking the pay and conditions offered to Lorenzo, one suspects the terms to be offered to Rossi will not have improved as a result of his Ducati stint... Perhaps he will return, as he is one of just 3 riders left that has proven he can win races and titles, Yamaha is the form bike, it makes sense, except it would mean Rossi being clearly second to Lorenzo, it'll come down to pride and I doubt Rossi will swallow it.

So this means a works seat to a rider that Yamaha THINKS can win.... Its a tough ask? Anyone obvious? Not from where I'm sitting.... Casey? I doubt that as well, although can you imagine Lorenzo and Casey on identical bikes? WOW, what races we would get.... Died and gone to heaven! Casey on 3 different brands of bikes and 3 world titles, now that would be a record!

I agree with pretty much everything you wrote, except I think Rossi swallowed quite a large humility pill that last year and half. His ego is not as big as it once was because of all this for sure. It can't be. (Although, I am one of the ones that think it was not as big and evil as some think... I think that's why he's so popular)

Like the article said... does he want to win again and lose his legacy as a developer?

But, I don't think him playing second fiddle to Lorenzo will bother him too much. Say what you want about him, but he is a very shrewd and realistic fella. I can see him thinking... "Ok, I play second to Jorge for now, but when I win, I will be number one again"... Would that happen, probably not I think, but I can see him thinking along those lines.

And at this point he may not even care if he beats Lorenzo one on one again, he may just want to get some of his former glory back before he retires. But, only he knows that.

Its a shame to see Ben Spies leave the series as I have no doubt that he is a gifted motorcycle racer. His achievement in WSBK in taking out the title in a rookie year on unseen tracks showed this. I'm not going to enter into some of the dubious calls on Ben's character like some of the posters above (come on people, have some respect) but I think the nature of the announcement was more of a surprise to me than anything, particularly with regards to the timing and the hints of invective shown. All is obviously not well in the Yamaha camp, no matter what JL99 is achieving (or should that be in spite of?). I'm pretty sure that there are now a lot of WSBK teams doing a quick assessment of their team choices for next year...
Going forward Dovi has proven that he is keen and more than up to riding the factory Yam. Anyone who doubts the man's quality is a fool. In four and a half seasons he's racked up 20 podiums and a victory in the top class (in extremely testing conditions at Donington - how is that less 'genuine' than Spies' win I what I want to know?). There's only a handful of current riders who have podiumed in more than a quarter of their race starts. Do not forget his riding the wheels off a underspec Honda 250 to consistently push Lorenzo on a dominant Aprilia, Dovi has proved he can battle with the best. His 125cc championship was won against some pretty stiff competition; the likes of Lorenzo, Stoner, Bautista, Simoncelli, Barbera, Kallio were all bested. In all, he beat 8 future world champions in that year. The measure of a great rider to me is asking "what would happen if they dropped to Moto2?" because with the competitiveness of that class at the moment this is the true yardstick of a rider's skill and flexibility. In this respect I'm pretty confident Dovi would do extremely well - perhaps only one of half a dozen or so current MotoGP pilots you could say that of.
Rossi to Yamaha? There's going to need to be some bridges built between the riders for that to happen, but I guess it's not impossible. I can only see Rossi getting a factory ride with his own sponsorship, but at the same time I find it hard to see how Yamaha (who seem to be struggling in attracting a main sponsor) would want that level of corporate support going to a team that doesn't feature their current #1 rider. I think VR will have a British team-mate next year on the red bike.

Its no real surprise. The motogp series is a train wreck..
New rules EVERY year.
Crap tires
Spec this spec that. Certainly not the pinnacle series it should be.
It's widely known is fear and dislike of flying; while it seems he can do it, without question he does not enjoy it.
He hasn't seemed to be enjoying himself at all this year.
Ben's grandfather held the distribution rights in Texas for Coors beer for many decades and they drink a lot of beer in the lone star state.
The family stands to inherit hundreds of millions of dollars.
That combined with his earnings racing he will be financially set.
I expect him to dive deep into cycling and enjoy his life. Maybe a fishing trip once in a while with an newly retired Australian...
Maybe it wasn't the middle finger to Yamaha, maybe it was to Motogp as well.
Eitherway best wishes to him

The early rounds of the season saw Ben have set up issues, then that was remedied and tricky track conditions showed Ben not willing to take risks like the front runners. Then clearly Ben was trying too hard but seemed to be ok with the bike. The chunking tire was the first incident that robbed Ben of a sure podium. Last race was very strange. Was it nerves because of something Yamaha had said to him. His skipping Monday testing wasn't a rational act I think. He was already fed up then. One thing we know because Ben has made it crystal clear: there are hard feelings in the team and the timing of the announcement showed an emotional response by Ben. This follows a typical pattern I think: Nick at Honda where after he won the Championship, they wheel out a new bike designed for Dani; Edwards being the test mule for Rossi; and now what looks to be the same deal for Ben. Ben is not willing to be relegated to an inferior status and his response shows a lack of maturity I think. This might hinder his chances for a new ride I guess.

... if he's leaving all motorcycle racing for good. He's got diverse interests outside the sport, and he won't be short of cash.

Really hope that "The Ben" gets some nice results at Laguna Seca and Indy. He comes out as a nice guy/rider. It was clear that something was not right (with Ben or with his side of the garage or something else), which it would be nice to read about in the future. Hope he gets a decent ride somewhere else. He's proper fast!

Not sure if I read it here, but is there any truth that the 'team' dictated his bike settings and he was testing parts for Jorge? IF he wasn't allowed hissed deed, and his only value was 'testing', his leaving makes sense. It was obvious early in the year, that something wasn't right on Spies side of the team......whatever happened, it was MAJOR for him to make this big a statement (literally and figuratively) prior to 'Seca. I'm sure, David, you'll have more shortly.

... okay, maybe a 'big thing' for our American friends, but for the rest of the world it's like - 'yeah, so what?' or 'not before time'.

The last 18 months for Spies has been remarkable for - nothing.

Despite having access to the very best equipment, Spies has proved to be a racer with a pocket-full of excuses/reasons, but pitifully few results.

At the end of the day, when all is said and done - Dovizioso on a customer bike has out-classed Spies - comprehensively, and in all aspects.

Spies came and went and was gone - in 5 years time, few outside of the US will remember.

How do I vote negative stars?

Toseland had a similar path... I'm American, and I still remember him!

Its going to take some patience, but the watchwords are surely wait and see.
I look forward to the joint official announcement from Ben and Yamaha.
Always the realist and Ben ain't a spring chicken either in the MGP paddock.
My bet is that like Stoner, he's retiring from 2 wheel motorsport for the foreseable future.

I've read the rumors on soup, but I personally don't think it mixes well with his tweet along the lines of "maybe we will be back where we belong". I don't think he meant flipping burgers by this.

Did Spies come into MGP, as WSBK WC, and find it way more difficult then he thought? He (& Cal) have said that riding a MGP bike is very/VERY difficult, much more so then a WSBK. Or is part of the issue the politics within the team? We might never know, but we do know there are plenty guys chomping at the bit for any ride in MGP. Will we feel his loss? No....but as I've said, Casey leaving is a huge loss for the sport.

Ben never said that (acc. to Ben it´s not very, very difficult but "very, very different; more like a 250cc 2-stroke ..."). There was a very interesting interview with Tom Houseworth and Ben in May 2010 (=800cc) where both of them said the following things (based on data from QATAR where Ben rode the M1 and R1):

- WSBK had (2010) more low-end torque <=> MGP had (2010) more high-end power
- MGP = corner speed (2010 | 800cc | app. 5-7 km/h faster than SBK) <=> WSBK = braking late and acc. as soon as possible
- main reason for corner speed is not the electronics or the prototype aspect but: the tyres (acc. to both Spies and Houseworth)

Conclusion (facts based on / coming from the 800cc format can be in general adapted/used to/for 1000cc; of course knowing that the new format is far more comparable - 1000cc MotoGP riding style - to WSBK): MotoGP is/was a high-tec money burning machine with rule changing orgies and nearly no input/output relation (=> FACT: where are THE/all worldwide known manufactureres if this is the most important, indispensable thing for marketing and technical leadership?).

LP from Germany

Yup. My thoughts exactly, scatterbrained. Give Dovi or Cal (or VR46) the factory seat and sign Andrea to a 2yr deal @ Tech3. A year to learn the bike and the in's-n-outs of setup, and 2014 becomes MUCH more entertaining. Put Iannone on the most well-sorted bike in the series & watch the sparks fly!

I think there three real options here. One, Ben heads to WSBK with Nicky to avoid testing regulations in MotoGP and tests the hell out the bike while staying in racing shape. Two, they go straight to MotoGP based on the announcement that BMW has pulled out of WSBK full factory support, another sign of a transfer to MotoGP. Lastly there is the return to MotoGP with Suzuki next year one year ahead of what Suzuki had planned. This is the most logical for Suzuki to return with a real contender and a crew they are familiar with. Ben has enough of his own money to supplement the early return and to me this really seems like the most likely outcome. However a Hayden Spies MotoGP team sounds very US sales friendly

Good Luck to the guy!!! Moto GP is a very easy series to leave right now. Pieces flying off of the tires.Collusion by the manufacturers to insure that only the two top team bikes are competitive, which leaves only four really competitive bikes, and that might not be the case since Nicky was clearly testing for the Captain the year that he won his Championship. Now there is a hint that Spies was also testing for Lorenzo. So, what does that leave...two bikes on the grid...the best Honda and the best Yamaha??? Please don't tell me that Ducati belongs in this conversation...they have a hard time beating their own satellite bikes...these guys are clearly lost.

As I have said before, the future remains firmly with the Superbikes. Every bike (except Yamaha) appears to be competitive. At least a dozen guys are capable of winning races. They are almost exactly as fast as these silly tool room specials. Only someone with a serious fetish for Moto GP bikes would notice the tiny difference in speed, but anyone would notice the distinct lack of competitors, characters and excitement. Not to mention the obvious, in the Superbike paddock you just don't see the sort of juvenile behavior that infests Moto GP and its fans. Check out the forum here for an example. The moderator had to finally step in and start deleting the non-stop rubbish. This is just motorcycle racing for God's sake.

The very best result for me is that Nicky, Ben and CE2 end up in Superbike. We will have great racing, great personalities, and full participation by the factories....anybody and buy and build a competitive bike...

You are right about the sad state of the gird and lack of competitive machinery. But don't kid yourself into believing that WSBK doesn't have the same kind of politics behind the scenes. That is very naive. And if WSBK is the shit how come it is full of has beens that got regularly beaten in MotoGP? Spies and Melandri will be back MotoGP in 2014 riding BMW. Both are top riders but still got beaten by Stoner, Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Rossi all the time. Of course according to you and many others this is only because they had superior machinery, right?

Only bmw will join MotoGp if the rules are more stable and fair for all of their participants than sound like never, Honda, yamaha and ducati aka the msma still have alot of force for put the other manufacturers in a bad position, also quoting max biaggi than riding prototypes is good but is better the other series because there more emotion and parity for all.

And BMW will shooting in the foot if they join to MotoGP, to be in motoGP is a matter of various years of development that means zero wins for a long time. in SBK has spend less time and the results are coming now. so why a manufacturer is receiving success a series than have spend resources and time, will sacrifice for the suppposed prestige of the other series.

Also BMW will only give the chance to its italian division, the example althea racing, alot of support + private team = sucess, something than Yamaha didnt wanted to do for support its GP team. in BSB yamaha is running good but for yamaha the priority its their prototype. Melandri and Spies in SBK sounds good.

and also Bayliss kick their butt in a race a very long time but what happend, rossi dnf and all the views went to rossi, not baylisstic.

What Dorna must do is stop that freak experimentation for cure the series but being realistic that will not happend soon.

BS11 to BMW SBK - I like!

He was much happier there eating sushi with rivals like Haga, than having the metaphorical walls of MotoGP.

Just need WSBK to make races, practices and superpole available online with a subscription.

Silly season for sure. First Casey, now Ben. For very different reasons I suppose. Would love to see them end up in WSBK, that series has been more entertaining to watch (Moto1 and Moto2 as well). Would love to see Hayden and Rossi go there too. Dorna needs time to lick their wounds and figure things out. Too many recent changes have done more damage than good for MotoGP. Ben's a class act, he'll do well no matter what he chooses to do.

There is also a considerable amount of buzz today that retirement is not out of the question. Or at least for the next year. I would hate to see it but it is possible.

Or maybe the "sick of it" was in regards to his treatment by Yamaha.

We can all read between the lines. Some of us can right fairy tales between them...

I've heard it mentioned a few times this season that Ben Spies runs a radically different setup to the other Yamaha's but I've never seen an explanation for that until now. Was he really forced to run strange setups? That seems astonishing to say the least.

Ben has always run a different set up. He's adapting a superbike style to work on the GP bikes, Dovi and Lorenzo are ex 250 guys and ride like it. Cal has said himself that he spent the off season studying Lorenzo's data and learning to ride like Lorenzo, which I presume would dictate a similar set-up.

Part of the article from

"For race historians, the Spies situation feels slightly like the decision GP racer Graeme Crosby made in the early 1980s. A very capable and versatile racer, "Croz" had won the Australian Superbike title, the Suzuka 8 hours, the Daytona 200 and even the Isle of Mann TT before joining Giacomo Agostini's Yamaha GP team in 1982.

Crosby struggled with injuries in '82, but still finished second in the all-important 500cc world championship. However, by the time the season ended, "Croz" had endured a belly full of "political bullsh*t" on the Yamaha team and he simply walked away from GP racing, never to return.

Thus it's not inconceivable to speculate that Spies could leave it all behind."