After winning the World Superbike Championship in 2009, Ben Spies continued his rise to motorcycling stardom, as Yamaha gave the Texan its blessing to move onto the MotoGP Championship. The move wasn’t made without resistance though, as the satellite teams within MotoGP were sick and tired of seeing top-talent riders like Spies go directly into factory-backed teams in their first season. Thus the Rookie Rule was born, seemingly with the direct detriment of Spies in mind.

Showing its mettle with the American Spies, the Rookie Rule was again tested when Italian Marco Simoncelli entered MotoGP, and was forced to join the San Carlo Gresini Honda team. Simoncelli, considered by many in the MotoGP paddock to have the future star-power of mentor Valentino Rossi, served his two-season sentence in the satellite squad, and before his untimely death at Sepang, he was expected to move up to the factory ranks in 2012.

Now with the shock news of Casey Stoner’s retirement, HRC has been put in a tremendously difficult position with its factory-backed Repsol Honda team. Though said to be eager to retain Dani Pedrosa, HRC realizes that its long-term future is in Marc Marquez. With the young Spanish Moto2 rider posing a number of problems in his expected ascension into MotoGP in 2013, Honda has found itself between a rock and a hard place for next season.

Similarly, Dorna is in a precarious spot with the state of the MotoGP Championship. Watching its golden goose Valentino Rossi struggle on the Ducati, and counting the nine-time World Champion’s future time in MotoGP on only several fingers, the MotoGP media rights holder is under tremendous pressure to find a new star to attract the masses, and as a Spanish company…the preference is seen as favoring a Spaniard to take that center-stage spotlight. Enter the repeal of the MotoGP Rookie Rule, which kills two birds with one stone.

With Honda long believed to be pulling the strings on Dorna’s marionette (as it is the manufacturer with the largest presence in MotoGP), and Dorna having an obvious interest in helping cultivate a badly needed new star/personality in its sport, it was announced at the tail-end of the British GP that MotoGP would do away with the Rookie Rule for 2013. Stating that it served no purpose anymore for the satellite teams (interestingly enough, the only teams seemingly quoted as saying the rule was unnecessary were the Honda satellite teams), the MotoGP Rookie Rule was cast aside as something that applied to a former vestige of the Grand Prix Championship.

The short-lived application of the provision, and its obvious implementation and repudiation occurring for very specific riders, has lead to an enormous outcry of how arbitrary the MotoGP rules have become, and has leaded to fans and commentators to cry afoul of the internal relationships between Dorna, manufacturers, and those of certain nationalities.

While much can be said on the subject, perhaps the most succinct and accurate appraisal of the situation comes from the rule’s first intended target: Ben Spies. One of three Americans in “the Spanish Championship that travels around the world”, the factory Yamaha rider, whose future placement for the 2013 season could now be affected by “the Marquez Rule”, had no problem telling his fans on Twitter exactly what he thought of Dorna’s latest decision. Agree or disagree, leave your thoughts in the comments.

Source: Ben Spies (Twitter)

  • AC

    It’s BS, for sure, but obviously the powers that be expect Marquez to be the next rockstar and are willing to throw out rules to bring him in as quickly as possible. They obviously didn’t feel that way about Spies when he came in. Is it fair? Not at all. Best way to shove it in their face is to post results on the track.

  • irksome

    Because, of course, Marquez is a lock to win the Championship, just like Spies did. Oh wait… um, just like Tony Elias! Oh wait, um…

    Marquez isn’t even the best rider in Moto2, just the best one with Repsol tattooed on his butt. Who knows if he’ll achieve alien status.

    Did Dorna get spec ECUs in exchange?

  • Westward

    Right now there is only Pol Espargaro that seems capable to challenge Marquez in Moto2 consistently. In the 125’s Pol lost out to Marc. This year it seem that those battles will resume again. Redding, Luthi, and Ianonne are good, but they may fade a little like they have been the last two seasons.

    In the three years of Moto2, no one has more victories or podiums than Marquez. So if he is not the best in Moto2 right now, who is ?

    If you add all of Marquez’s victories and podiums in the lower classes, no one in either series has his kind of success.

  • Taerkasten

    These scenarios can happen now than appers than mr marquez now will be in Repsol Honda

    1.- the guy ascends and become Like Tony the turtle in the previous year, but now more louder because this Marc guy is the new “Sensation”, Aja, it’s a reckless rider than appers than he dont learn of his mistakes, also if we start to list his defects have more than one.

    2.- The guy ascends to Repsol Honda but looks like than will learn something from a guy than have 7 years on Repsol main team and Dont win a championship, outsiders than comes to Repsol Honda wins the championship, Muchs thanks to Hayden and stoner but the spanish administration dont want champions of outside.

    3.- and less likely the sensation guy wins the championship but theres a problem for it, Dovi and the rest of the field.

    So huh, Politics again, “!/&%king politics, than honda is beneficiated for it is a fact, but Dorna has show another fact of bad Administration.

  • DareN

    The best (not the most cosistant) rider in Moto 2 is Andrea Iannone. I have nothing against the Marquez kid, but I am starting to dislike him just like Pedrosa. Even Repsol with all their oil money cannot buy respect…It will be very interesting to watch two spoiled Honda brats on the same team – sparks will fly.

  • John Williams

    If HRC swallowed their pride and hired Rossi back, EVERYONE would get what they wanted. The fans, HRC, Rossi, and Dorna. Rossi breaking Agostini’s record, fans going bugshit crazy, HRC winning, and Dorna building viewership.

    But what’s happening? Bullshit is what’s happening.

  • DareN

    Right, John W. I am catching myself waiting for Moto 2 race, Moto GP being an aftertought – now this slope becomes more slippery with new rules.

  • G.Irish

    @John Williams
    One could say that HRC should swallow their pride, but one could also say Rossi made his bed, so now it’s time to sleep in it. Had he not burned bridges, HRC would be welcoming him back with a red carpet and open arms.

    Truth be told I don’t think Rossi was terribly harsh on Honda in his autobiography. But if you’re gonna call out your former employer don’t be surprised when you can’t get your old job back.

  • John Williams

    @G. Irish…

    Too Right. Rossi could make a public apology, all is forgiven, get on with it.

    Otherwise, gimme WSB. So desperately tragic, that an ego or two got in the way of what could have been the greatest glory in the history of motorcycle racing.

  • PD

    Fucked as fuck, but then all human beings are political animals, and consequently any organization infested with them equally political. Why should we expect any better from Dorna, especially given its track record?

  • B.T.

    MOTO 2 is the most exciting of all the classes with MOTO 3 a very close second.MOTOGP is always and will always be “The Show !” That being said, Marquez is plain and simple “The Best” in a very talented field.When Iannone gets to be more consistent their rivalry will be legend! It’s a business boys, plain and simple.Politics will always play a role in every sport,no matter how big or small. Repsol has the money,so of course they carry the most weight. Is it fair? NOTHING IN LIFE IS FAIR!!Was it fair the way Suzuki up and left like a “dead beat dad?” Marquez ruffles feathers but this aint a popularity contest and if you want to see the “future” of MOTOGP, he’ll be riding a Repsol Honda next to a teammate who’s never done anything to deserve keeping that seat for as long as he has! Fair? Not in the least,but it’s business!

  • FeelGoodIncNI

    I see Dorna getting a lot of abuse over this on Twitter and various forums. Rule changing to suit one person or one team or one nationality etc etc. Now I may be wrong but it strikes me they had very little choice. Sure, they want to re-instate themselves as the powers that be over MotoGP rather than the manufacturers but how can they posibly do so when the Rookie Rule probably went something like this:

    HRC: We want Marquez in Repsol Honda in 2013!
    Dorna: No! Rookie Rule!
    HRC: OK, we’ll pull all our bikes and go play elsewhere!
    Dorna: Crap!

    Marquezgate may not be to everybody’s liking but it was never going to play out any other way. MotoGP is dying on it’s ass due to poor management looking to the future being bullied by manufacturers looking at the present. Here’s a question for you; what happens when Rossi retires? When he was out with the broken leg, viewing figures and ticket sales plummeted. When he goes and we are left with the shambles we have now care of Honda and friends will you want to watch a 4 featureless riders race x amount of seconds per lap in front of a sea of make believe racers on CRTs? Will anyone? IMO, this is the bed the manufacturers are forcing dorna to make them.

  • Sometimes you have to roll a hard six.

  • Gabe

    not that I don’t agree with Ben, he was singled out by the rookie rule, but starting him on an official team would have done exactly what? He’s on a factory team now and unfortunately not getting the results.

  • Westward

    I personally don’t feel sorry of Spies and I am a fan. Technically in my book he wasn’t a rookie anyway, as he has had two or three wild card appearances before joining Tech3. Besides, who’s seat was he going to get in 2010, Rossi the reigning champions, or Lorenzo the next best rider to Stoner.

    No one knew if he was better than the four aliens, or if he was even close. It all worked out in the end, sort of. He is on a factory seat now and has been the past two seasons…

  • jake

    The politics of MotoGP do suck especially changing rules to benefit a specific rider or team. But Ben was not a “victim” of the Rookie rule so people should stop using him as an example. Ben signed a two year deal in the middle of 2009 to stay with Yamaha with the plan to stay another year in SBK (cause it looked like the title was gone) and then go to MotoGP if he won the title 2010. THat changed after he turned it around and won the title.

    It was stated the decision to move him early was to give him a learning year before going to the factory team in 2011 as a replacement for which ever rider (Rossi or Lorenzo) Yamaha couldn’t keep for 2011. So where exactly was Ben supposed to go other then a satellite team in 2010? All the factory seats were taken and Marco (the other major rookie that year) would have been first in line to get any decent open one. Was he going to go to Suzuki? Yamaha already had Rossi and Jorge and with a signed 2 year deal on a hot young prospect, I don’t see them letting him out of it to take a ride with another factory.

    Yeah again this politics suck but please get the facts straight if you are going to use an example.

  • Jimmy Smith JR

    I agree with Gabe. Starting rookies with potential on non factory teams gives them a year to learn the tracks and the machinery and gives them the best and most widely accepted excuse for less than perfect results, ‘hey I’m on a satellite bike, if we had the same stuff the factory guys did…blah blah blah..’

    The rookie rule is good. Gives them a chance to succeed on a factory bike long term.

  • Calisdad

    Ben nailed it.

    MotoGP is going to lose viewers as it did after Schwantz retired. AMA had better racing several years ago and right now WSBK has better racing.

  • Jonathan

    Jensen Beeler says: “Sometimes you have to roll a hard six.”

    Are you referring to Dorna for recinding the Rookie rule, or to the Terrible Texan Twins for telling it like it is? ;)

    I’m just not sure where this is all going any more. The announcement that Honda is to build a factory “CRT” is the latest curveball and surely means that the “claim any motor that doesn’t fit the spirit of the rules for €20,000” principle is dead in the water and with it the whole CRT project in it’s present form.

    It’s clear that a lot of tough decisions have to be made to ensure the future of the sport that we love, but the current chaos is all too public. Let’s hope for a good season’s racing, otherwise all we will be talking about is how the wheels are coming off the Motogp bus.

  • joe

    MotoGp needs to pick a direction and see it through. A larger field has to be the goal, so, what do the manus want? I would love to hear what dorna is doing to court bmw, aprillia, suzuki, etc? The CRT is not enough. This Marquez stuff is the same old same, it’s time they actually acted like they were worthy of running the series. And, I’m glad to hear Americans speaking their mind.

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  • nace

    I’m a HUGE Ben Spies fan but….

    1) As others have mentioned, there was no way that Spies would have gone directly to the factory team back 2010. This is when the the Yamaha Factory had both Lorenzo and Rossi. The only real chance Spies had at the factory team was if Yamaha were to field 3 bikes on the Fiat Yamaha Squad (similar to the Repsol Honda team in 2011).

    2) Times were different back then. The manufacturers had 2 factory bikes each and at least 2 satellite bikes (the exception being Suzuki). The satellites were struggling just to stay afloat. How were the satellite teams supposed to stay alive when the cream of the crop went straight to the factory teams while the also-rans went to the Satellites? MotoGP was STRUGGLING at the time to maintain even 16 riders in the Championship because the costs of leasing a bike were so huge that the satellite teams needed big name riders to satisfy their sponsors. Now, if a satellite team can’t afford to lease a bike, they have the CRT option, which has allowed Aspar to field 2 bikes and Gresini to lease one Honda and field a Honda based CRT bike.

    In my opinion, the Rookie Rule was no longer needed as soon as CRT bikes were allowed to race.

  • TexusTim

    they cant tie the future on just one rider or nation or one manufactor, with honda set to realease a version of the current motogp bike to satilite or “crt” teams they will have more domination as they do in motoe 2 were there engine is the “spec” all teams use. it would seem that it is starting to be a one nation one bike series and thats not competition on any level.I agree that the crt teams have caused the rookie rule to become obsolete but at the time it was needed to allow satilite teams to have good riders to keep sponsors, I dont believe it was done to stop spies progress, Dorna wants and needs american riders to be sucessful, it’s a shame we lost simoncelli he had all the right stuff and spies does to but cant seem to make it happen at this time but the rookie rule has nothing to do with his sucess or failure.
    Dorna needs to stop messing around and make this as competitive as possable without doing things that give advantage to anyone regadless of any manufactor or nation it must seem to the world there is no favortisim in any way to any one or it will lose it’s fan base.this whole thing about rev limiters and all the other shinanigins is the wrong direction I say let the rider and teams do what it takes to win and let the rookie rule go to the kitty liter.

  • Ben

    Rossi to Honda giving everyone what they want ? Hardly… Even on a factory Honda, I don’t think he could beat the youngers guys in a straight fight – not any more

    Marquez the best of the field ? Hardly. Witness Pol handing him his arse on a platter. Witness Redding beating him in a straight dogfight.

    Sometimes I wonder what some of you people are watching, your reality is a bit ‘different’, let’s say.

    Oh, and Ben was out of line with his comments. Sour grapes, he’s not exactly living up to what he’s been given any more, and he’s not getting any younger. Edwards going ‘yeah man’ well, gimme a break. Edwards might as well not even be in motogp any more, what’s he there for, comic relief ?

    Get over it, the rookie rule was stupid, and it’s now tossed out.

    What worries me more more is that Marquez will turn out to be another Simoncelli – fast but dangerous. He’s already proven he is exactly that, in Moto2. Magnify that by x10 when he jumps on a works Honda.

  • Dan

    Just my two cents/pennies but IMHO although clearly Rossi is undoubtably the most incredible talent, he has allowed Dorna to get in the habit of being lazy! They have had years and years of simply trawling out the same old spiel.

    I do feel sorry for Ben, i think he’s beginning to see what a lot of others have seen in the past! In an effort to lazily ‘re-create’ another Rossi ‘phenomenon’ Dorna and co. are willing to throw whatever they need to whichever way the feel necessary. Unfortunately the only thing they are throwing away is their credibility.

    Taking nothing away from Rossi, i preferred the excitement when Biaggi and Gibernau were challenging him. I can’t say i prefer the lack of tight battles in the last few years but i can definately appreciate the talent and skill levels that Stoner, Lorenzo, Pedrosa and others display week in week out for me it’s entertaining in a different way.

    I’m waiting for people to vote with their feet – WorldSBK is a fantastic series and whilst it doesnt rival MotoGP necessarily for technical development, I believe the racing certainly rivals moto2 for action! You also get more support races and tickets are cheaper. I don’t particularly like the super pole format but it’s kind of entertaining for the pre-race build up. Dont even get me started on the TT and road racing – another world of entertainment completely!

  • Jimmy Midnight

    Oh poor Benny! That’s what happens when your not even in the top ten in points, people just don’t give a $!%#! what you think. Stop worrying about the rookies and start winning like you were supposed to do. Or at least make into the top 5.

    Besides, Honda gets what Honda wants. Why is this a surprise to anyone.

  • G.Irish

    I can’t imagine Ben is losing too much sleep over this, just him calling it like it is. I do think he’s well aware of the fact that a Spanish or Italian passport carries a lot of weight in the paddock and his comment was more to that point than sour grapes about when he was a rookie.

    I’m sure Edwards still holds a little bit of bitterness in his heart over losing the Repsol Honda seat to Nicky Hayden, due to politics at Honda (well, American Honda thought Nicky could sell more bikes than Colin). So here’s yet another situation where a Repsol Honda seat gets decided due to political maneuvering.

    One way this situation can hurt Ben Spies though, is that if Marquez couldn’t go to Repsol Honda, that would be a seat Ben could’ve possibly gotten into for a 1 year deal. Now Ben’s only real hope for a factory ride is Yamaha (unless he wants to roll the dice and try to get on the Ducati).

  • Ric

    @ Ben

    “Marquez the best of the field ? Hardly. Witness Pol handing him his arse on a platter. Witness Redding beating him in a straight dogfight.”

    So you are referring to one race? I believe marquez is leading the championship so far and has won a few races already this season. Did anyone even watch 2011 season’s Moto 2 races? If you haven;t I strongly suggest you watch the second half of the season when Marquez was just winning race after race. What was Pol handing him then? nothing. Only person who really challenged him was Bradl. If it wasn’t for his crash at Sepang during free practice I would say he would of definitely won the championship instead of Bradl

    Also I agree the Dorna changing the rules just for one person is kinda ridiculous but people hating on marquez are prolably that, just haters. It seems like people think Marquez told Dorna to give him a ride or he will pack his things up if they don’t, all this politics probably has nothing to do with him.

  • Calisdad

    Dorna by definition is:” an international sports management, marketing and media company.” If they want to increase viewership/income they need to have more than 6 factory rides in MGP. Courting Suzuki back into the fold should be high on their list of objectives. BS11 has won many races for Suzuki and is an obvious choice if this were to happen (2014?). I personally don’t see Ben losing his seat next year. He’s just finding his stride.

  • G.Irish

    Ben would be a fool to join Suzuki when/if they return to Moto GP. The only way that would make sense is if there were no factory or satellite rides open at Yamaha or Honda. Even then, chancing it at Ducati might still be the better choice.

  • Westward

    @ Ben

    I have to agree with Ric, you must have only started watching Moto2 last week. Marquez and Espargaro both are the only ones to have been on the podium every race thus far save one. Both have won two races each, and Marquez leads the championship.

    As for Redding, he as finish every race and only made the podium twice, and has not won, putting him 26-30 points out of the top points. Personally I would like to see more consistency from him, it only makes the championship that much better, but I would not hold my breath.


    The only thing I disagree with, is that Bradl challenged Marquez last season. Once Marquez starting winning after crashing out of the first three races, Bradl was just doing what he could to barely hold on. In the end, Marquez beat himself. Bradl never had any answers for Marquez’s talent, and became champion via luck.

    I do agree that, if Marquez had raced the last two circuits, Bradl would have been distant second for the title…

    For the spanish, this rivalry of Marquez and Espargaro could be what saves MotoGP in the future, like the Rossi and Biaggi battles of old…

    The tension between the two is there, but they both could end up on Hondas in MotoGP, and eventually have a Rossi and Lorenzo rivalry as well…

  • Westward

    ** slight correction

    Pol Espargaro has one less podium than Marquez…

  • Halfie 30

    Colin and Ben have great points. Every one who is saying “Ben would ‘t have gotten a factory seat in 2010” is either missi g the point, or have the their head where the sun doesn’t shine. The point is Moto GP made it a point to implament a rule to prohibit Ben from going straight to a factory team (seat open or not). Lifting that rule for a “sponsor’s” pet project is rediculous to say the least. Looking at it any other way is just missing the point being made. It’s simply not fair.

  • Gabe

    I think it’s a valid point, and one that has been made by others. Spies making the point just comes across as whining. Especially since there is no positive outcome for him out of all of this.

    A different example of the same type of thing. The media and fans treating Stoner unfairly? definitely a point to be made. Stoner mentioning as a reason for retirement? Whining.

  • Dave

    Halfie 30, exactly right.

    It’s the reasons behind the rules.

    It’s analagous to David Stern rigging the NBA lottery “oh well, that team needs that superstar so I have a new rule…” More and more I agree with Stoner retiring…so long as it’s going to be a joke, might as well retire. I get that.

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  • Faust

    I don’t see Ben as whining. I mean, this is the guy’s career and he has a big fanbase, which he communicates with. If he wants to call it like he sees it, then let him. He’s not running around the paddock cursing people out and slapping people in the face like previous GP riders (and current WSBK riders). He’s always very professional on the track and at the events, but if he wants to call it like he sees it, why shouldn’t he? Dorna made the rule to block him, regardless of if he was getting a factory ride or not, and now they want to change it for Repsol’s golden boy. I like Spies, and I like Marquez, but wrong is wrong. Spies should at least be able to comment on it.

    And on another note, Colin is a great rider who hasn’t been on a good bike in a long time. People rag on the guy all the time, but he used to post great qualifying times on his Tech 3 regularly. When your bike goes slower than the factory rides, what are you supposed to do? I’d love to see Colin go to a factory ride in WSBK and show he still has it. Moto GP has fallen off so much that I find myself getting much more excited about WSBK these days. It’s sad.

  • kiwi

    Until Moto GP’s teams grow some ‘ cajones ‘ and tell that bunch of corrupt, incompetent Spaniards to go f*** themselves and then organize /find another marketing operation ( note ONLY marketing, not rule making and horse trading with the MSMA ) to promote the world championships in a manner fitting of it’s status, nothing will change for the better.

    Actually with the melt-down of the Spanish ” ecomomy “, this may well be precipitated by Dorna defaulting on payments to teams………………… You can be sure that should there be any possibility of ” banking ” problems, Carmen the Escargot and his cronies will stuff their pockets first.

  • Jonathan

    @ kiwi: your post is scandalous and quite possibly libelous but I’m laughing my head off and I couldn’t agree more with you. :)

  • jw


    I liken this to big government where corporations (money) really do control Washington and not the will of the people (fans). Follow the money (Honda) bretheren…

    Another nail in the coffin for a once great sport

  • Roman

    Ben should concentrate on his performance. Judging by his season thus far, he’ll be lucky to land a satellite seat next year. Quit crying and try to finish a race within a minute of your teammate, Ben.

  • PKN

    As far as the rookie rule is concerned everyone has said everything needed to be said, but whats the overall solution for GP? You have teams that have better electronics and a race within a race for CRTs. If they really want to even the field make a universal TC and engine management system that can be set however a team wants, but they all have the same capabilities. Maintain but tweak the CRT rules. Then you will see real competition, riders and engines pitted against each other, not whose got the better electronics. Some people see this as a hamstring, but isnt that what the single tire and rookie rule are and were to make for a more even field? I dont see this happening, but one can always dream.

  • etmfs

    Looks like the same kind of good ‘ol boy BS politics as in the movie “Senna”. It reminds one that the rights to all these high profile sports are owned by capricious, fickle, and xenophobic corporations where one person has WAY too much power. I mean, really, why is MotoGP locked into one tire manufacturer?