As expected, Ben Spies and Yamaha have announced that the current World Superbike Champion and MotoGP rookie will move up to the factory Yamaha team (noticeably not called Fiat-Yamaha in the press release) for the 2011 season. Spies’ move to the factory squad has lovingly been referred to as the “second worst-kept secret in MotoGP,” right after Rossi’s departure from the Fiat-Yamaha team to Ducati Corse.
Hinting at his move yesterday, Spies had made good on his promise to announce something during the Indianapolis GP weekend. “We’re delighted that Ben will join the Factory Team for next season,” said Lin Jarvis, Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing. “Ben has shown great promise in his first ten MotoGP races. He has learnt rapidly and recorded strong results, including a well-deserved podium finish at Silverstone – impressive for someone in their first full season.”
Spies is a clinch to win Rookie of the Year in MotoGP for 2010, and currently sits 7th in the MotoGP standings. Showing strong results this season with a bevy of Top 5 finishes, Spies’ ascent to the graces of a factory team are well deserved. Just as Spies faced new challenges coming into MotoGP, riding under the factory banner will surely be a new challenge for the Texan.
“My first year in MotoGP has been a great learning curve and for that I have to thank Herve Poncharal, all the team at Tech 3 and especially my American mechanics who have stuck by me throughout this great journey so far,” said Spies. “Having previously been to only four of the ten tracks to date, I have to be pleased with where I am and with having achieved my first podium so soon. I’m especially pleased that Yamaha have recognized the potential in me and given me the opportunity to step up to the Factory Team so early in my GP career.”
Spies will likely join the likely 2010 MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo next year on the Factory Yamaha squad, but Lorenzo and Yamaha have yet to fully agree on the Spaniard’s contract for the next season. An announcement at the Aragon GP is expected, with Lorenzo likely wanting to make his future known while at a Spanish venue.