Team Bosses Happy Spies Staying in GP

October 1, 2012
Scott Mathews
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There are few people worthy of getting an audience with Mathews but he makes himself available on occasion to the racers of the Grand Prix paddock. If they’re lucky, he might even mention their name. He’s Scott Mathews, and he’s bringing you the inside scoop on MotoGP.

Ben Spies took fifth at Aragon.
Ben Spies will continue on in MotoGP in 2013 for the Pramac Ducati team riding a factory-backed Desmosedici.

Ben Spies was right to shun the opportunity to move back to World Superbikes to try and fulfill his potential in the MotoGP world championship. The Texan seemed certain to be leaving MotoGP after he announced on the eve of his home race in Laguna Seca at the end of July that he would quit Yamaha’s official factory squad. He was lining up a switch to the BMW Italia squad with Marco Melandri but then had a sudden and late change of heart to stay in MotoGP for 2013.

The 2009 World Superbike champion will join Italian rookie Andrea Iannone in the Pramac Ducati squad on factory-backed Desmosedici. Spies also negotiated with Fausto Gresini’s satellite Honda squad having said he opted to remain in MotoGP to show his true potential and not have regrets in the future that he walked away too soon.

The 28-year-old’s factory Yamaha boss Massimo Meregalli said he was relieved the American had decided to pledge his immediate future to MotoGP.

Meregalli said: “I can see he is very motivated about this new challenge. I think his riding style can suit the Ducati because he is pretty good on braking and very aggressive on the throttle. He still believes in himself and talking to him he knows that he can do better and I think he really wants to prove his value in this championship. Personally I think it would have been a mistake to go back to World Superbikes so quickly because he still believes in himself. I remember at the start of the year saying he could be one of the top four riders and I didn’t say this because he was my rider, but I really believe it.”

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team boss Herve Poncharal worked closely with Spies during an impressive debut MotoGP campaign in 2010. A pole position and podium on home soil at Indianapolis and a rostrum at Silverstone earned Spies the chance to move to Yamaha’s factory squad with Jorge Lorenzo.

And Poncharal also believes it would have been a mistake for Spies to make a quick return to the World Superbike paddock.

Poncharal said: “I think he has taken the wisest decision. What surprised me more than him moving to Ducati was when I read that Ben wanted to go back to World Superbikes. If I were his manager I would have told him it would have been a big mistake to go back to World Superbikes. If he had gone back I think it would have been almost impossible for him to return to MotoGP. I think Ben has the level to be a top MotoGP rider and when I remember what he did for us in 2010 he is definitely somebody that can win races. It is a tough challenge going to Ducati but for them it is a big coup because he has the speed, he still has a lot of room for improvement and he has something to prove.”

Though Ben Spies  11  held third-place early on  Andrea Dovizioso  4 eventually finished on the final step of the podium.
Ben Spies was unable to keep pace with Andrea Dovizioso (4) and Cal Crutchlow in the battle for third at Aragon.

Spies Misses Another Podium at Aragon

Spies is still waiting to score his first podium finish in 2012 after he was unable to match the pace of Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso in a battle for the top three at the Motorland Aragon. The Texan held third for the opening three laps before German Stefan Bradl swept by, only for the LCR Honda rider to crash out on Lap 5. The 2009 World Superbike champion then kept Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team duo Crutchlow and Dovizioso at bay for the next 10 laps as he went in search of his first podium in almost a year after his second in Valencia last November.

But Spies was unable to go with Dovizioso when the Italian passed him on Lap 5 and he dropped back to fifth on Lap 18 when Crutchlow pounced to try and hunt down his teammate. After qualifying in fourth and running a strong third for so long, Spies thought he had a good shot at the podium, but finished fifth.

“We ran the hard front tire like everybody else and I don’t know if it was the track changing a little but we didn’t quite have the pace I thought we were going to have,” said Spies. “I wasn’t far off fighting for the podium. I set the pace for that fight in the race but when Cal and Andrea made the pass I couldn’t stick right with them. Over the last five laps I was just one tenth off but that little bit is what cost me. I’m not unhappy, just a little disappointed and I think I could have been a little bit closer. Cal and Dovi were just riding better than me at the end. I tried everything to stay with them but couldn’t do it. I wasn’t as comfortable as normal. Usually at the end of the race I can turn it up a bit but I didn’t have that today and every time I did I made a small mistake and couldn’t do the things I wanted to do with the bike.”

Asked where he was unable to match satellite duo Crutchlow and Dovizioso he added: “When we got off the brake and rolling through the corner I couldn’t keep the same corner speed and if I did I would run a little wide. I did the best I could to stay with them, I just didn’t have their pace over the last few laps.”