Ben Spies Stays in MotoGP with Pramac Ducati

September 12, 2012
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

Ben Spies - Factory Yamaha 2012
The 2012 season with Yamaha didn’t quite pan out for Ben Spies, who will contest 2013 aboard a satellite Ducati.

Ben Spies will stay in MotoGP. The former AMA and World Superbike champ will campaign the 2013 season aboard a satellite Ducati alongside Italian Moto2 competitor Andrea Iannone. The satellite team will be run under the Pramac Racing banner for 2013.

Spies has endured a tumultuous 2012 season aboard the factory Yamaha. Mechanical failures have contributed to the 28-year-old’s sub-par results on the track, with the American currently 10th in the points. Spies also courted drama off the track when he announced his departure from the Yamaha team before the Laguna Seca round. Speculation at the time had him slated to return to World Superbike – racing for the BMW factory squad. However, the Texan was subsequently linked to rides that would keep him in the MotoGP paddock, including Gresini Honda and most recently the Ducati satellite team.

A two-man Pramac satellite squad restructures the existing Ducati strategy, which for the past two years has provided bikes to solo rider teams run by Pramac (rider Hector Barbera) and Cardion AB (rider Karel Abraham). It is a return to a more familiar arrangement, as Pramac has traditionally fielded two-man Ducati squads in the past.

Ducati says of the move that “This agreement will enable additional important support in the development of the Desmosedici MotoGP project, offering a further opportunity in the process of improving the performance of the Italian bike.”

The Desmosedici project has floundered during the past two seasons, with nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi winless during his much-hyped tenure with the Italian marque. Rossi left to fill the factory Yamaha seat vacated by Spies.

The factory and satellite Ducati teams will mirror each other with an American/Italian duo. Former world champion Nicky Hayden is the longest tenured of the Desmo riders, and teams with newcomer Andrea Dovizioso on the factory team – who has outperformed Spies on his satellite Yamaha this season. Spies’ new teammate, Iannone, is completing his third season in Moto2. The 23-year-old has won eight races and scored 18 podiums in Moto2, but his most recent accomplishment was testing the factory Ducati MotoGP bike at Mugello, where he managed to lap faster than the outbound Rossi.

Ducati’s announcment now leaves all the prototype MotoGP bikes accounted for in 2013, save for the Gresini Honda – a position currently occupied by Spaniard Alvaro Bautista.

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