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Spies Talks MotoGP: MotoUSA Interview

Friday, October 2, 2009
Will Yamahas Ben Spies make the jump to MotoGP next year
Texan Ben Spies is one of the hottest commodities in road racing. We caught up with him after the recent announcement that he's moving up to GPs a year earlier than most thought.
Following months of speculation, Ben Spies finally confirmed that he will be a MotoGP rider in 2010. Having secured nine pole positions, six fastest laps and 12 race wins in his rookie season, the 25 year old American is under no illusion of the mammoth task ahead of him when he makes the switch to MotoGP in 2010.

Spies said: “When I do make the move I know that I’m not going to be battling Valentino or Jorge – I’m not stupid. As a rider I’m ok with that because I know that those guys are the best riders in the world.

“I’m only 25 and I’ve got a good ten years of racing left. I’m not afraid to go and get beat and my goal in GP’s would be to go and finish in the top eight every weekend. I’m not blind to how hard it’s going to be, but I’m not scared of trying it either. If I finish in fifth place and I see that it’s Dani, Casey, Jorge and Valentino in front of me I’m not going to be disappointed about it. I know how good those guys are so then it would be a matter of time.”

The biggest challenge he faces is getting to a level where he can push an 800cc prototype race bike with high grip Bridgestone tires to the limit. Having spent a career racing Superbikes he took a matter of minutes to find the limits of the Yamaha when he arrived in WSB, but in MotoGP it won’t be that simple, as Britain ’s James Toseland has found out.
Current points leader and Yamaha rider  Ben Spies  19  will have his work cut out for him in Imola.
Can he win the World Superbike title before he heads off to MotoGP?
“There is an extremely big learning curve with a GP bike compared with a Superbike. In GP’s you’ve got a bike and tires that can do so much more than in WSB and you’ve got to learn to push it to the limit.”

While Spies remains realistic about his chances of success he remains confident that it’s down to a matter of being given the time to adapt.

“I think talent wise and given enough seat time I can be competitive, but how long that will take and how I adapt to it I don’t know. I know that the first year I go to MotoGP I’m probably not going to step on the podium.”

In recent years there have been inevitable comparisons between WSB and MotoGP riders. History shows that Superbike riders have generally been unable to make the grade in MotoGP. Obvious exceptions are 2006 world champion Nicky Hayden and 2006 Valencia race winner Troy Bayliss, but both men achieved success on the big horsepower 990s and there has been less for WSB men to shout about since the class switched the high-corner-speed 800s. Unlike Toseland, who went to MotoGP with no experience, Spies has at least raced in the class in 2008 onboard the Rizla Suzuki, with a best result of sixth place.

Valentino Rossi - Qatar Test
"I’m not talking in a big headed way, but if you brought Rossi to WSB, I don’t doubt that he’s going to be there and he could beat me and that’s fine, but he’s not going to beat me by 30 seconds - there is no way." - Spies.
“I used to be a better 600 rider that I was on a Superbike, but I accept that I’m going to have to adapt well. It’s a big change, I know because I’ve ridden one. When I was on the Suzuki I know how comfortable I was, which wasn’t very, and I know that it wasn’t the best bike out there. There are a lot of differences between the two classes and it will take time and whether I can do it I don’t know. What I know is that I can ride a Superbike with the best of them and now I want to find out if I can do the same in MotoGP.

“I’m not talking in a big headed way, but if you brought Rossi to WSB, I don’t doubt that he’s going to be there and he could beat me and that’s fine, but he’s not going to beat me by 30 seconds - there's no way. For sure on a GP bike it’s definitely possible he could beat me by a big margin because he is used to those limits. But if you took a mid-pack guy from GP and threw him on a Superbike – he isn’t going to win.”

Rider Bios - MotoGP
Valentino Rossi Bio
The most popular rider on planet earth? His name is Valentino Rossi and he won the '08 MotoGP Championship.
Casey Stoner Bio
The 2007 MotoGP Champion and runner-up in '08, Australian Casey Stoner is a rising star in Grand Prix racing.
Nicky Hayden Bio
The fastest of the Hayden racing brothers, Nicky has left Honda to join the Ducati Marlboro MotoGP team for '09.

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Alan -GP  October 28, 2009 02:31 PM
It seems some effeminates here get their panties in a knot every time someone mentions Rossi in a way that does not imply god status. Get over yourselves, ladies!
Alex Littlewood -Spies and Edwards!!  October 7, 2009 11:43 AM
Let's go team "TEXAS 3 YAMAHA"!!!! Ben and Colin for president in 2010!
Torre -Spies  October 5, 2009 09:54 AM
I'm excited about next season already. This season has been super exciting too. But I still would have like to have seen Ben stay WSB 1 more year. If he wins this year. Then never mind. And we all know if Haga wins this year he's retiring. I know that Biaggi, Fabrizio, & Rea could push Ben to championship next year, but whatever.
LunchBox -Come see us Ben.......  October 4, 2009 12:58 AM
Hey Ben...........after next season you and Colin need to grab them Tech3 machines and come out to TWS for a track day so all us poor, slow folk back home can gawk at them!!!
LunchBox -NonFactory Ride  October 4, 2009 12:56 AM
Yeah, he is going to a satelite team. Team Yami would have picked him up I am sure but MotoGP decided to change the rules this season so that rookies have to start on a satelite team. Your first year in GP is not allowed to be on a factory ride.
Dan the Canadian -??????????  October 3, 2009 03:02 PM
Ben will take Rossi place in 2011, when Rossi will go to Ducati.....
Then he will/might win the championship.......
dave biz -spies gp  October 3, 2009 11:18 AM
He is going to a NON factory team, that's the key. Toseland did good in his rookie year on a NON factory bike, spies is no better or worse than Toseland.. SBK is where it is at now days Toseland will be up front with Biaggi Haga Rea ECT..
dave biz -spies gp  October 3, 2009 11:17 AM
He is going to a NON factory team, that's the key. Toseland did good in his rookie year on a NON factory bike, spies is no better or worse than Toseland.. SBK is where it is at now days Toseland will be up front with Biaggi Haga Rea ECT..
Dwihary A Putro -Super Elbowz Knows How...  October 3, 2009 10:45 AM
Giving the thought that Ben is the best rookie in WSBK so far, i believe he could do better than Colin (no offense) and it has been proved when we compares them. So, it will be interesting battle of midpacker in 2010 season.... and yes, Ben definitely will steals podium.
John -Spies  October 3, 2009 07:19 AM
I think Ben's statement is being misinterpreted. I believe the point he is trying to make is that when compared apples to apples (Rossi in WSBK) it would be a very competitive race. Ben would be on
a machine he is very familiar with and Rossi, possibly the best rider in the world, would most definitely fair very well. I believe Ben knows his capabilities and exhibits that every race in WSBK. I also
believe he is a humble individual and has spoken with very much respect. I wish Ben and all other riders a safe and competitive season.
KM -Spies to Moto GP  October 3, 2009 07:15 AM
I know that Ben has the talent to be a world champion in Moto Gp; I dont think yamaha is giving him the best equipment this year with the team he is going to be with. Ben is smart he knows if he rides good next year it will open door for him where he can join a team that has "Full Factory support". I dont really care I just want to see some good racing and someone besides Rossie, Jorge, and Yamaha at the front. Go Ben, Go USA!!!!!
KC -Ben again  October 2, 2009 09:06 PM
Good point about RC Jim, I will give you that one. My point was a talent Rossi seems to have with respects to racing, he has won multiple rally car events, and his lap times in F1 were competetive with the F1 regulars. I do think that Ben can and will have a great GP career, I just didn't understand the need to mention Rossi and how he would or wouldn't fare. BTW I'm a longtime Colin Edwards fan, and I've been rooting for Ben this year. I dig confidence, but i think respect is equally important.
Paul Danger Kile -Ben Spies in GP  October 2, 2009 06:26 PM
Maybe what the naysayers have forgotten is that Ben Spies already has a top 10 MotoGP result. I saw him do it, and there was a huge gap back there behind him. He did it in bad weather on a Suzuki. Now he's going to be on a better machine. Of course he can regularly expect Top 10. The naysayers were critical of Valentino during his first 3 premier level titles. Valentino kept starting out in back (at least in the beginning of the race, regardless of qualifying, he was passed a lot), but he always worked his way up to the front. The GP boys are going to be very, very surprised by Ben Spies.
Jim -KC- Easy there Ben  October 2, 2009 05:14 PM
Rossi races rally cars and considered F1. With all due respect what does that have to do with MotoGp. I think that's an apples and oranges comparison. Ricky Carmichael is the GOAT motocrosser and he's very much average in the lower classes of NASCAR. My opinion on Ben is that he's got to get on the best machinery to have a chance and since he's kind of a big guy (Like Edwards) needs to keep his weight down otherwise it will be difficult to stay with the pixies Rossi, Stoner, Pedrosa, Lorenzo et all. But if anyone can do it I think elbowz can. He appears to be that once in a decade or so rider that is special. Best of luck to you Ben.
KC -Easy there Ben  October 2, 2009 04:21 PM
I think Ben might be getting a little ahead of himself. He knows that Rossi won't do this or that, and he's knows what Rossi's skill level is or would be. Rossi can win on pretty much anything (the guy race's rally cars and was even considering a formula one career) he's a natural born racer! Ben should concentrate on racing and less on how he compares to Rossi, because at this point in his career, he doesn't compare!
KT -Spies to GP  October 2, 2009 12:22 PM
There's not doubt he has the talent. Lets see if he can put the talent together with the advanced machine and be competitive. Good luck to ya Ben. USA, USA, USA!!!!!!
Robert -B.Spies  October 2, 2009 11:51 AM
I wish you alot of luck, I have no doubt that you will be great in Moto GP. It will be great to see Team Texas or you can say Team America take it to the world on the Yamahas. Ben, keep your head up, have confidence in yourself and just go out and do your thing that you do all the time and that is ride your best and you will be fine.