MotoGP: Ben Spies to Leave Yamaha at End of Season

07/24/2012 @ 10:00 am, by Jensen Beeler35 COMMENTS

In a surprise announcement ahead of the US GP at Laguna Seca, Ben Spies has announced that he intends to leave Yamaha at the end of the 2012 MotoGP Championship season. Revealing the news in an email to Superbikeplanet, Spies chose his words carefully, though the Texan hints at a rift between himself and the Yamaha Racing MotoGP team as being part of the reason for his departure.

Certain to be bombarded with questions during Thursday’s pre-race media scrums, Spies is likely to shed more light on the actual situation, and his plans for the future, at the start of the Laguna Seca round. Until then, read his statement after the jump, and let the conjecture, double-reading, and wishful thinking begin.

“Yesterday I made a comment on Twitter to cause a stir. (Today) I’ll be more in saying that I have chosen to leave Yamaha after this season for a litany of reasons,” said Spies in his email to Superbikeplanet. “I will explain more when I feel it is appropriate. I’m discussing my situation with my sponsors and they are behind me. There are a few people at Yamaha who I hate to leave. And they know who they are. I wish Yamaha the best. I won’t make any further comments until the offical announcement comes out.”

Spies’s seat at the factory Yamaha MotoGP has been a topic of much deliberation recently, as the American’s performance has been anything but stellar. At times certainly a victim of circumstances, Spies’s continuously unfavorable fortunes have pointed to a larger issue going on within either his inner circle, or in the Yamaha team. Whatever the reason may be, the #2 rider at Yamaha has been under tremendous pressure, both on and off the track, by Monster Yamaha Tech 3 riders Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow, both of whom are keen for a factory ride at Yamaha.

Though Crutchlow has been courting an offer from Ducati, who has since stalled on the deal, Dovizioso is tipped as the rider likely to move up into Yamaha’s factory team. With today’s announcement, it is unclear where Spies will land next season. His mentioning of missing only “a few people at Yamaha” signals an issue between the Texan and the MotoGP team, which could also mean that a return to Herve Poncharal’s satellite Yamaha squad is out of the question.

WSBK? AMA? Professional cycling? Your guess at to Spies’s future is as good as ours.

Source: Superbikeplanet; Photo: © 2012 Jules Cisek / Popmonkey – All Rights Reserved

  • proud41american

    MotoGP is going to be in trouble quickly when their top riders keep leaving, because it’s turning into SpanishGP, where rules are placed, and bent to accomodate the Spanish riders.

    I see WSBK becoming the premier racing venue very quickly, where riders can, “Race on Sunday”, and then customers can, “…Buy on Monday.” Riders can make good money in WSBK, ride similarly-powered bikes, get great media exposure, and they (and the manufacturers) don’t have to worry about the rules changing on a weekly basis.

    Carmen better fix MotoGP pretty quick, before it’s gone, and only Moto3 and Moto2 exist–the only Moto classes that are still exciting to watch.

  • really thought spies would be at yamaha for a few more years. big spies fan here but this makes me wonder whats going on in his head right now??? maybe he’s sick motogp already? but maybe yamaha is way committed to keeping spies a #2 rider? things are extremely interesting in motogp silly season now thats fact.

  • Soul_Reaver

    Sick of MotoGP already? That would actually surprise me. Thing is Spies caused a bit of al ball-ache for Yamaha by announcing the news just before the US round. I only expected a statement from one of the parties after the US GP ( or during if they resigned him ). Or is my view of marketing a simple one?

  • shane

    I wondered if the mystery illness last weekend was psycho – sematic (in his head). He beamed for the cameras prior to the warm up lap. I was also really puzzled how a guy that lost the last race of 2011 by a hair could have such a confidence crisis going into this year.

    I have heard that he’s more interested in a cycling career (the motorless kind) I guess time will tell if it’s true? He’s managed good lap times but seems like he’s lost the hunger? It’s a very curious situation for sure. I was looking forward to good things from him this year. Perhaps with this monkey off his back he can put down some solid results (doubtful but maybe)?

  • John

    Not a surprise here at all. First, American riders do not seem to get a lot of respect in Moto GP. Second, Spies has not helped himself this year. Third the satellite riders are exceeding Spies’ performance. Dovi and Crutchlow are the most likely candidates. However, Crutchlow’s “offer” from Ducati and his public announcement of same makes it unlikely that Yamaha will give him serious consideration. Dove has earned the ride, but Rossi lurks in the background. If I were in charge at Yamaha, I would probably want to avoid the Rossi circus and bring Dovi on board. But, if Rossi brings a strong sponsorship package with him, we may see a return to Yamaha by Vale.

    I am a fan of Spies’ ability, but I hope that wherever he ends up, he looses the “royal we”, manages to seem a little less aloof and develops a more engaging personality. Even in AMA, he and his entourage (Mom) seeme to feel like he was just a little too “special”. That demeanor can be a real detriment when dealing with corporate higher ups, potential sponsors, etc.

  • Hey proud41a, the only top rider to leave motogp is Stoner (Spies is not a top rider this season), and Spies wrote leaving Yamaha not Motogp, and motopgp is and will be MotoGP, the fact that the spanish riders are the top riders does not mean is a SpanishGP. clearly you know jack about motogp. for the past few years Italians and Stoner have dominated GP with the exception of Nicky in 2006 (which he didn’t dominated races that year, he just got a lot of podiums).

    To sit on a factory machine it doesn’t mean shit if you are american or spanish, you have to provide results, as you are not aware, a factory sit is result driven, if you can’t even make it to the top 10 then is just an absolute ticket to your way out

  • btw, I am big fan of Spies too but as John mentioned in the post above, this “Special me” kind of mentality has to change because there isn’t “One” special one but about 5.

  • ford you should spend some time in the MotoGP paddock. The pecking order undoubtedly is Spanish > European > Everyone else.

  • Jensen, that might be true about the pecking order but don’t tell me that if Ben would’ve had good results this year then things would be different for him, probably he would have a contract by now.

  • More than likely you’re right, the factory seat was his to lose after all. But one look at the media center, and you’ll find 10-15 Spanish journalists for every one American. If a racer wins on Sunday, and journalist isn’t there to report it, does it matter?

  • 76

    Correction Jensen, the pecking order is Valentino Rossi > Spanish > European > Everyone else

    Interesting that Spies pulled the pin on this before the US Laguna Round, but at the same time did it at the beginning of the week? More time to stew and speculate? or more time to diffuse it alittle more before the weekend while giving the big green light asap to anyone else who is interested for the future. I tend to think it has to be for maximum airplay & burn considering the tone and wording of his email to SBP. He has already opened the door to reasons, giving the journo’s some time to do alittle digging and come up with some questions

  • David

    America….Spies….Burgers…it all makes sense. It’s what we do in America. Eat burgers,get fat…oh…and go to Walmart.

    Spies flips burgers at his joint. His master plan in effect.

    Sad really.

    If Nicky is pushed out at Ducati then it’s over.

    America has to hit rock bottom in order to painfully slog it’s way back to the top.

  • There… Just wanted to say it since they are not resigning but Marco at this point.

    Let’s see what happens… :)

  • Bill

    Let’s be realistic. Ben spies has more than enough talent. what he lacks is the same Nicky Hayden lacked when teamed with a Spanish Rider, and Colin Edwards when teamed with other riders. They lacked support from the team principles. Honda openly admitted to designing a bike around Pedrosa the year Nicky won his championship. Make no mistake Ducati only care about Rossi and Yamaha work on Lorenzo. If that wasn’t the case then maybe Ben would not have tires that chunk, bikes that fail to finish and other mechanical gremlins. Sure some is expected but when your teammate suffers no issues it becomes suspect. I imagine that’s why Ben is leaving and will only miss a few people.

  • Casey Palmer

    Spies is too good for AMA and WSBK…. He slaughtered in both classes when he was there. It wouldn’t be exciting. Same with Nicky. He’s too good to not be in the GP. A great rider can’t have one bad season and all the sudden he’s a horrible rider. Look at Rossi at Ducati. Does that make him a horrible MotoGP racer? Should Rossi go down to AMA or WSBK? It’s all the same. I won’t watch the GP if Spies and Hayden aren’t racing. This is not good for the GP.

  • I”ll watch GP regardless, racing was way before the riders you like.

  • RJ

    Spies will be returning next year, along with the Suzuki MotoGP Team.

  • Frenchie

    BMW is gonna have a monstruous WSBK team next year, Melandri plus Spies it’s gonna be double podium every other race for the germans.
    2 years contract for Spies with a return in MotoGP with BMW in the near future.

  • got it! spies will be on a factory suzuki w/ the team manager K. Schwantz! in motogp. hate to see spies on a uncompetitive bike though.

  • Sixty7


    The last time I checked Spain was in europe………

  • Don’t be that guy on the internet…

  • Faust

    @ Casey Palmer

    WSBK is also not the same now as it was when Spies “slaughtered” the class according to you. In reality, Spies won WSBK by only 6 points, which is not a slaughter by any means. Also, Checa was on a Honda at the time, the Aprilias were not running as strong, BMW wasn’t even in the top 10, Tom Sykes wasn’t on the new Kawi, and factory Xerox Ducati was the only other serious contender for the title that year. This is definately no longer the case. There’s plenty of Moto GP caliber talent in WSBK right now, and the racing is much better. I don’t think it would be a bad move for Spies to go there. And I am not on the Rossi bandwagon by ANY means, but you really can’t compare Spies’ situation to his. Rossi is the highest point scoring Ducati in the series right now. Spies is getting outscored by ALL THREE other Yamahas in the series. If Spies had a couple of GP world titles to his name, they wouldn’t be wanting to get rid of him, but numbers don’t lie.

  • Calisdad

    WSBK IS the premier class. Don’t you watch? MGP is a Honda sponsored Spanish racing league.

    When was the last time there were no Americans in MGP? Their loss, nobodys gain. If Rossi leaves MGP dies- period.

    A Schwantz led Spies/Hayden(all 3) Suzuki team is closer to reality.

  • JW

    Stoner: wants out
    Spies: had to get out
    Hayden: forced out
    Edwards: doesnt care

    What will MotoGP offer the USA in terms of american riders? How does this attract – keep americans to the sport and buying product?

    WSBK will be interesting.

    I miss the old days of motogp…


  • JoeD

    Ben was in over his head and l think he was riding a wave that he could not control. He may have talent but the desire to win is gone. Maybe the XR series would suit him.

  • jimmy smith JR

    Ok here is a completely original idea. Its just crazy enough to work. Rossi has a problem with his current bike a descendant of the frameless GP Ducs and team leader Filippo Preziosi and Ducati has money woes. Enter Audi. They tell Ducati, cost is no object, we want a winning bike ridden by Rossi ASAP. But we still have that problem with Filippo Preziosi being vested and having job as a team leader.

    Heres the solution move Filippo Preziosi and his team to WSBK next year to champion the frameless Panigale, built based on his team’s work in GP, with Ben Spies at the helm. Allow Rossi to pick his team and continue to develop the Ducati GP13.

    Everybody’s happy!

  • SBPilot

    I’m not sure why “top” riders shun the CRT’s so much because it is absolutely apparent that they are on the roll. Look at Esparago and DePuniet, their qualifying time was only 2 seconds from Stoners on the factory Honda and less than half a second away from one of the fastest satellites, Alvaros Honda at Mugello ( a fast track at that). Combine that with the fact that it’s safe to assume ESP and RDP aren’t as fast as riders as Stoner/Lorenzo/Dovi/Pedrosa etc means the bikes themselves could be actually closer to the front, possibly by a whole second.

    The factory Aprilias, sorry, I mean the ART bikes are clearly onto something and I can see a bunch of CRT teams next year jumping ship to ART. By the end of the season that gap maybe even less. If RDP and ESP can get within 1.5 seconds of the gajillion dollar HRC Hondas, then I’m sure more talented riders can close the gap even more. In fact I think Honda brass have seen the capabilities of the ART bikes hence announcing they HRC will be building their own CRT bikes.

    Spies said it’ll be interesting/different next year and he’s ‘pumped’, well perhaps we’ll see him on a CRT? Perhaps an American based CRT team (Attack?)

  • Gritboy

    Something is awry with Ben. Either it’s with the bike, him or politics. Sad to see Yamaha’s dropping him, but hoping he picks another ride that gels for him in 2013.

  • BenFaster

    This is good stuff!
    My guess is the Suzuki option for Ben. He released the news early for maximum damage to the people that treat him like he’s white trash. I think his attitude does not help ( several mentioned it in these posts).
    He is a Texan, we will go WAY out of our way to return poor treatment. I don’t think it will make him a winner next year but I will be routing for him all the way. At least he has the balls to make a move. In my fantasy world EBR gets a massive injection of funds and the team that includes Ben, Nicky, Colin, Kevin and yes even Kenny come back and crush the alien freight train! Yes, I said it was a fantasy! Lets Race!

  • “What will MotoGP offer the USA in terms of american riders? How does this attract – keep americans to the sport and buying product?”

    More to the point, neither the U.S. or Canada have racing programs that well and truly prepare riders for MotoGP. The AMA rules have seemingly neutered the Superbike class. And Canada? A handful of race across the entire country isn’t going to produce many top-drawer racers. You need fans to attract sponsors, which support venues and more racing, etc. You need quality racing to attract fans. Right now, the fans are falling away because the sport in North America is poorly represented. IMO.

    @SBPilot: The top riders are sure to shun CRTs (and even satellite bikes) simply because if you’re going to be on the top step of the podium, you need a factory ride. Satellites are close, but not quite. CRTs, despite the huge ground they’ve made during the season, are still so far off the pace that they need their own separate spot in Parc Fermé. I can’t imagine the really fast guys taking CRTs seriously till they’re no longer a race within a race.

  • Ken

    I think the “production racers” are going to be a factor in all of this. Even Honda can’t sustain the level of expenditure they’re at. They have to see the down side of dwindling fields and decreasing fan involvement due to processional racing. I think after the initial 1000 cc title is over things will settle down and we’ll get back to a more rational set of class rules. I think the CRT was a negotiating tactic. How about several bikes (Production Racers) from five or six companies with control ECU’s and prototype level engine and chassis with spec tires. Maybe a higher level of materials than WSBK to add to the differentiation. What would really make it interesting though, would be to ban telescopic forks as a suspension option. That would be a fun series.

  • Andrey

    Spies seemed to have a lot of support based on the somewhat erroneous assumption that racing in the US was relevant elsewhere … not so… he clearly isn’t up to the same standard and is being smart by moving on.

  • pete

    BMW will NOT be coming to MotoGP as a factory. they will supply engines to CRT teams as can be seen in with the Fwd/Suter bike. in fact, they are “pulling out” of WSBK to only provide materiel similar to Althea Duc, Ten Kate Honda, etc. BMW italia will manage the team and develop the chassis and manage the team while BMW will supply and support the engines. very similar to how a CRT team operates but with a production chassis. CRT is the future of MotoGP whether factories like it or not. full factory rides will dwindle when CRTs match their pace and sponsors will realize they don’t have to spend a fortune to be a title sponsor.

    the best motorcycle racing series at the moment is Moto2. that formula is definitely working with tight action-packed racing week in and week out. having a spec engine combined with a variety of chassis create just enough innovation to keep things progressing without domination by a particular team/chassis. evolve that formula just a little and you have CRTs. in fact, the racing in the CRTs is probably better and more entertaining with rider’s cut and thrusting while the factories at the front of the race line up in parade formation line astern and cross the finish line with considerable gaps between riders. you just don’t get to see it. eventually, you will. CRTs are progressing and will soon be treading on factory territory.

    hell, ducati is basically running a CRT very similar to aprilia in that FTR manufactured the GP12.1’s chassis. if i were ducati, i would “pull out” of MotoGP and set up a CRT team next year with Rossi/Burgess developing the chassis (with the aid of audi money and tech) and ducati supplying and supporting the engine (pin-point focus and increase in engine allocation). wait, where have i read that before…

  • RJ’s comment is the internet rumor I’d most like to be true.

  • Westward

    Moto2 is hands down the best most exciting racing in motorcycles today. I agree with that whole-heartedly.

    As for Ducati, they should try a Kalex chassis, and sign Ben Spies. I have a feeling that with Spies on the bike, the results would be more in line with qualifying like Hayden and Barbera, and racing like Rossi, which equals podiums and possibly victories too…

    Besides, with Checa possibly leaving Ducati in WSBK, Spies would fit in nicely in either series for Ducati…

    If Rossi goes to Yamaha, Lorenzo will cry. With Dovizioso making regular appearances on the rostrum like a weekly sitcom on a satellite bike, Rossi would seem a constant like the daily news, and victories the usual headline…