“I’m really not even upset about it,” said Ben Spies after his disappointing finish at the Indianapolis GP. Calm and collected after watching the motor on his Yamaha YZR-M1 blow-up down the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s front straight, Spies explained that he is really at the point where his bad luck, as many are calling it, is at a laughing point. Ben has already made an announcement that he will not be with Yamaha for the 2013 season, and Valentino Rossi has already filled the void left by the Texan at the factory team, but the issues surrounding Ben’s misfortunes continue to be raised.

Talking to the assembled press after the Indianapolis GP, Spies cracked open the door a bit further, and cast some light on what has been occurring within the Yamaha camp. With Yamaha seemingly believing that Spies was not racing at his full potential, the American explained that after the Italian GP at Mugello, he was told by a high-up at Yamaha that he better race 100% at Laguna Seca, or not bother coming to the race at all.

“I was told by someone at Yamaha that if I’m not going to ride at 100% at Laguna, then don’t show up,” said Spies. “I came to Laguna, and I tried as best as I could, and the bike had a malfunction. Then we came here with 100%, and did the best we could, and we had another mechanical with the bike. I’ve given my 100%, so to be told what I was told after Mugello, and the way it was, and then to give the effort I have the last two weekends, I don’t think it’s fair.”

“I know my team is (giving 100%), it’s shown — the bike has been good the last two weekends,” continued Spies. “I don’t respect what was told to me, and what we’ve tried to do this year. We had a problem at Assen with the tire, which wasn’t our fault, and also at Silverstone. But Qatar, here and Laguna, we’ve had three mechanical problems with the bike. I wouldn’t say its Yamaha’s fault at all, it’s been bad luck too. Why it’s happening to me, I don’t know. It was a big frustration about a month ago, but now we go to Brno, and I wonder what’s going to happen next.”

When pressed for a name as to whom at yamaha made the statement about his effort, Spies declined to comment further. Simply stating “it was someone high-up.”

Riding the Indianapolis GP after crashing hard during Saturday’s qualifying, Spies has suspected torn ligaments in his shoulder, as well as bruising on his back and pelvis. Fellow American Nicky Hayden wasn’t as fortunate with his injuries, while Casey Stoner, who also crashed in the final turns of the course, rode on a heavily injured foot. Despite his injuries, Spies had lofty goals for the American round, as was shown by his position in the race.

“We came back today, with honestly the goal to win the race, and we showed that the first lap and a half to two laps,” explained Spies. Leading Dani Pedrosa the first few laps of the race, Spies knew something was wrong with his bike when Pedrosa was able to challenge him for the lead on the second lap down the front straight. Noticing his bike losing power, the motor finally gave up on its fourth pass down the straightaway.

When asked by Asphalt & Rubber if he had raced on the same motor as the one he had crashed on, Spies confirmed that it was the same motor. While this practice of using crashed engines and parts isn’t entirely uncommon in the MotoGP paddock, it does harken back to the beginning of the season at Qatar, where Spies suffered chatter from a damaged chassis that had been crashed before the race and not replaced.

“We went to Laguna, and we came here, to get on the podium and to try and win races. I think it shows the character for me and my team that we’re trying to get on the podium and trying to win. With all the bad luck we’ve had, we’re still showing up, and we’re still giving it 100%,” said Spies.

“If you add up the tire things and bike problems, no matter what we’re out of the Championship. It doesn’t matter if I’ve won every other race — we’re out of it. But, we keep coming back, and we keep coming strong. It doesn’t matter right now, it’s just a matter of what’s going to happen next. Hopefully in Brno we can have a weekend where nothing happens, but that’s what we were hoping for here, but it didn’t happen.”

When asked by A&R if the comment after Mugello precipitated his announcement at Laguna Seca, Spies explained that the decision to leave the team had come before the Mugello comment, but the incident made the announcement a bit easier to make.

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

  • “How to motivate your employees” – By Yamaha. I’m still very interested to hear these sorts of details trickle out over time.

  • MikeD

    Ohohooooooo, that was JUICY…and the dirty underwear pieces keep showing up on the dry cleaners…LMAO.

  • Uberbox

    Really, bad luck? Hard not to be skeptical about how much “bad luck” Ben is having.

  • Lone Wolf

    I suspect sabotage to justify Rossi’s return!!

  • yooperbikemike

    I’m thinking Ben isn’t going to be attending too many “Yamaha Day of Champions” events any time soon.

  • Calisdad

    When hasn’t Ben given 100% ? With all the mechanical DNF’s one has to wonder which trash bin Ben’s bikes are built from.

    Don’t get hurt (anymore than you are) Ben. Nobody in the stands doubts your ability or effort.

  • Westward

    Gremlins… Nothing but gremlins…

    I really hope Spies remains in MotoGP, and I want to see him on a Ducati effort. Personally I think he would do better than Dovizioso, and since they announced they are expanding their efforts by placing four bikes on the grid, they have enough for both of them. I really cannot see how Petrucci, Redding, or Iannone are regarded as being better choices than Spies.

    Also whoever told Spies to step it up, obviously doesn’t watch MotoGP…

  • anti

    So this happened earlier int he season. May have been a fair call, go hard or stay home, it is motor racing after all. Ironically Yamaha have egg on their face now. More the issue at hand is that the team can’t give Ben a bike that works 100%.

    There is no worse place to Yamaha to do this to an American rider than at home races. Wonder how that will affect sales?

    Also, makes me wonder if Team Yam have money issues? New parts to Jorge, second hand ones to Ben? Could be possible. Which if true means Rossi will HAVE to bring a sponsor to pay his wages (maybe he’ll sponsor himself!).

  • I really doubt that Ben hasn’t given a 100% of effort when he goes out to race. In fact he had a couple of bad crashed because he was pushing too hard. All this bad relationship between him and yamaha is not helping the team in the end.

  • Jonathan

    It’s a shame to see a rider with such potential getting relentlessly “bad lucked” out of the sharp end with mechanical issues that just don’t happen to the tuning fork brand.

    We have a saying over here: “Form is temporary, class is permanent”. I don’t think that Ben is a mug who simply elbowed his way to a world championship – he’s quick and smart and IMO is no less deserving of a fast bike in a good team than any of his peers. It’s just a pity that there are so few competitive bikes in MotoGP.

    A week or two ago Edwards remarked that the factories should give up the previous year’s bikes to fill out the grid and provide proper, competitive racing. Pity the guy that gets Spies’ 2012 Yamaha…

  • John

    This whole situation is making Yamaha look bad, really bad. I wonder how many Americans watch/follow MotoGP vs AMA Superbike, because Josh Hayes on the R1 in AMA SBK has been unstoppable. I wonder how the Spies drama vs Hayes success will each respectively affect Yamaha’s US sales.

  • Bruce Monighan

    I also have begun to wonder about the financial status of Yamaha Racing. No sponsor, carrying the whole load themselves. That has got to lead to talks of cost cutting. The “luck” Ben has been having as well as his implied stateaments lead me to think he has been getting second tier parts as as well as replacement parts not on their assigned schedule. Every part of those bikes has a finite life schedule assigned to them. Maybe they are pushing past the schedule on Ben’s bike to save money. Not a lot of explanations for things breaking on Ben’s bike but not Lorenzo’s. The end of the year will bring very interesting revelations. Hope Rossi has his bases covered on the issue of parts supplies and updates.

  • Neel46

    Ben undoubtedly has more potential but what one can do if the bike gives away…

  • RT Moto

    Yamaha can eat a d!ck. Ben needs a functioning bike that can compete. I’m not surprised that he hasn’t given up but you can’t help but think who in their right mind would still put it all out there after the string of luck he has had. Ben if you are reading this, I have a pick up truck full of dudes with pitch forks and torches ready to destroy some things if you want. Just let me know. Lol

  • Jake

    First I honestly want to ask does nationality really matter? I’m american but it doesn’t matter to me if an american is in MotoGP, SBK or whatever as long as the racing good. Likewise I didn’t buy my Ducati because Hayden was on that team, simply because the 1198 was an awesome bike.

    The other thing is that people are so quick to jump on Yamaha, but as the norm only take the side that suits their preference. What does Yamaha gain by ruining Spies? There are 4 Yamaha’s on the grid but only Spies seems to have the constant problems. Why is that? People are quick to say Jarvis is behind this to get Rossi back, despite the fact that it was Jarvis who picked Lorenzo over Rossi to begin with. Also these stupid engine limit rules in MotoGP aren’t helping. So in case people haven’t been paying attention, each of Ben’s race failures have been after he had to race a bike that was crashed earlier in the session.

    But the other thing is Yamaha’s are generally reliable but Ben had all kinds of problems with the R1 when he went to SBK. After he left that team didn’t repeat those issues (and there were none before he got there either). Then he goes to MotoGP and these same type of issues continue. Could it be Holdsworth that is the problem? Just asking a legit question. You can’t just take one side of this because there is more to this than Yamaha is just trying to screw Ben

    I don’t know what’s going on with Ben and Yamaha, but he’s being paid a lot of money and is on a top team. Even without those technical issues his results still haven’t been there and he’s been beaten regularly by satellite riders on lesser versions of his bike. So yeah you can expect Yamaha’s top brass to be losing patience. Overall just seems like a situation that has taken a turn for the worst and both sides would probably be better off if they just parted ways with immediate effect.

  • CB

    Really bad showing for DORMA and Moto GP today. Bad racing, poor attendance, and top riders choosing to leave the series with the remaining 97% running CRT junk as back markers.

  • Mike Lewis

    @Jake makes a terrific point: What has Yamaha gained in this situation? The U.S. is Yamaha’s most important overseas market. Spies is popular. He’s won a World Championship on Yam’s gear. Moreover, why would any company sabotage its own works bike and factory rider? Where’s the upside? My guess is Spies relationship with Lin Jarvis — a notorious prick, albeit a successful one — has soured. Remember it was Jarvis who said before the start of the season that Spies better step up if he wants to keep his factory ride.

    And this was after Spies won a race in his first year on the factory bike.

    It seems that Spies in his veiled criticism has taken pains to not blame Yamaha the factory which by nearly all accounts is a terrific employer and supportive company. (How many times does Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki trot out and honor former champions? Colin Edwards II still waxes about how great Yamaha was and uses the brand at his boot camp.) My guess is that Spies likely felt that Jarvis overly blamed the rider and took too little responsibility for the M1’s mechanical issues. When Spies pressed and made mistakes, Jarvis simply ramped up the pressure.

    Clash of philosophy, style, personality. I do hate seeing Spies do poorly. And I really hoped to see him win on the Yamaha for a long time. It’s really a shame but I’d agree its bad luck on both sides and bad management of the problems (likely on both sides too).

  • @Jake: “Just asking a legit question. You can’t just take one side of this because there is more to this than Yamaha is just trying to screw Ben”

    C’mon, bro. Tinfoil helmets and conspiracy theories are a lot more fun than critical thinking.

    @CB: “Bad racing, poor attendance, and top riders choosing to leave the series with the remaining 97% running CRT junk as back markers.”

    Generally speaking, Moto3 and Moto2 offer stellar contests. MotoGP is struggling because there is so little (competitive) factory participation. Ducati blows this year. Kawi and Suzuki took their toys and went home. Add that the manufacturers have pushed for expensive rule changes, only to complain about the associated costs. (D’uh?) Then add a healthy dollop of global recession and you’ve a recipe for an ailing series. When attendance is down in Spain and all three classes are being dominated by Spanish riders, you know Dorna isn’t to blame for that.

    This isn’t to say that Dorna doesn’t make its share of mistakes. I think the CRT idea was reasonable, but it sure is slow to get off the ground. RdP did a great qualifying this weekend, though, very much in the hunt of satellite factory bikes. A little more oomph from the rest of the CRT guys would make the field more interesting.

    This weekend’s MotoGP race was embarrassingly spread out. Best race of the day, by far, was Moto3.

  • I don’t think Yamaha as a whole are trying to screw Spies over – that would indeed be a poor choice for many reasons. However, that doesn’t exclude the possibility that someone within his garage is either incompetent, or trying to screw him. It wasn’t long ago that there were reports of Spies’ mother losing it on one of the mechanics, and Ben backed it up saying it was deserved. Also worth noting is that Spies hasn’t given any reasons for leaving Yamaha (until this tidbit), leading me to believe that there is some drama happening behind the scenes – and this could be connected to some of the issues he is having.

    Anyway, Yamaha should be putting pressure on the staff to give him a solid bike. It doesn’t look good for the company if their stuff keeps falling apart – I know it’s not convincing me to go out and buy an R1 (I’m in the market to replace my R6)….

  • JW

    Yamaha ought to look in the mirror

  • Paulo

    “When hasn’t Ben given 100% ? With all the mechanical DNF’s one has to wonder which trash bin Ben’s bikes are built from.

    Don’t get hurt (anymore than you are) Ben. Nobody in the stands doubts your ability or effort.”


    Ben, your showing your true race spirit each race and nobody away from the bike doubts that!! Race your race to your safest, best abilities because we’re all cheering for you and know you can race and win given a good machine!!

  • An interesting implication of Yamaha being blind to the reality faced by Spies this season is how understanding they’ll be of Vale’s return to the fold next year. VR might be in for some culture shock.

  • man, this guy beated Mat Mladin.

  • Jimmy

    Ben’s problems with Yamaha (and with life in general) can be summed up in two words: Mary Spies. Regardless of Ben Spies’ incredible talent and outstanding work ethic, no one wants Mary in their paddock or in their business. She is like Hurricane Katrina, leaving a path of destruction wherever she goes. At least Katrina only lasted for a day or two.

  • Tony

    I would like to also see Spies at Ducati. He has a lot of talent and dominated the single year he was at WSBK in his epic battle with Haga. He has helped Yamaha and for someone to question his effort would piss me off as well.

    This will be unpopular, but Spies has worked and clawed a hell of a lot harder then “The GOAT” this year.

  • Maas

    Ben’s problems with Yamaha (and with life in general) can be summed up in two words: Mary Spies.


  • whatever your theory, this is not just bad luck.

    The Team Manager and Factory “higher up” better get real close to the situation in that garage for the rest of the season before one more mishap seriously hurts Ben or one of the other racers.

    complete bullshit at this level.

  • Gritboy

    WOW. I’d love to see Spies get on a CRT bike and beat those prototype Yamaha’s. Let ’em suck on that.

  • greatreporting

    Great reporting, glad to have some insight on what happening at Yamaha and MotoGP. This story is lighting up the internet chatter for sure, crash dot net removed the user comment section from this article since posting.

    Yamaha will feel the effects stateside, one can understanding making room for Rossi’s return, and how they went about this business defines the character of their management. Shock failure, factory engine blow-up, Lin Jarvis being a dick…..too bad for Yamaha, we are lucky nobody got seriously hurt.

  • Yamaha should give him 100% percent… Broken seats, rear swing arms falling apart, bent frames and an engine blow up on the front straight of the U.S.G.P… Who’s failing who here????

  • david

    complete crap, broken frame,forced to race on it, swingarm collapsing, now motor letting go big style? at this level? come on, ben’s results haven’t been there, but that is no excuse to put an unsafe bike underneath him. how can a rider push if he can’t be confident his bike wont fall apart? regarding jake’s comment, yes i think houseworth is vastly over-rated, but crew chiefs don’t rebuild engines at this level, in fact no one at the track even so much as cracks open a valve cover! they are sealed, so this is all on yamaha, who has lost my respect. perhaps money problems, can only afford to keep lorenzo’s bike running tip top? rossi better beware. maybe spies had one of jorge’s wornout motors?(JK). mary spies is a bit obnoxious, i agree with that.

  • Bob Krzeszkiewicz

    Mary Spies has nothing to do with Ben’s performance problems on the bike. Granted, I think she needs to keep her trap shut behind the scenes.

    No, Bens performance problems likely have more to do with crew chief Houseworth and the rest of his technicians. They were effective with production base bikes but I believe they are out of their depths in the world of prototypes. More chassis adjustments, more electronics to tweak and programs they never used before coming to motoGP.

    I admire loyalty in people, but after his rookie season, it should have been evident that his crew was not up to the task and sought a new one.

    Without a crew able to get the bike where it needs to be, Ben’s 100% is spent trying to stay on top of it rather than going around as fast as possible, like Jorge. The bike is fine. Jorge proves it, Dovi proves it. Sometimes Cal…

    I blame Tom and crew. With a new crew, Ben would likely still be in GP.

    They’ll do just fine with BMW in WSBK…regardless of that pompous Italian teammate he’ll be sharing a garage with. Trouble in paradise already and he hasn’t even set foot in their garage.

  • Hayabrusa

    Bob –

    The most ‘pompous Italian’ I know of rides an Aprilia, not a BMW! Sooo, Marco is taking lessons from Max?! Nonetheless, if Spies ends up there, I could easily see him winning another SBK championship.

  • Jeff

    MotoGp is a miserable place to be. No loss

  • Odie

    Ok, technical question: who makes the decision to either continue using any given part of a bike (engine, swing-arm, etc) or replacing it? Is that Tom and the crew?

  • irksome

    It’d be easier to do if the Yamaha didn’t “give 100%” of it’s guts to the the front straight…

  • pete
  • Beary

    It’s worth pndering that the ‘best bike in motogp at the moment’ 2nd rider has so many problems. I thnk it’s pretty obvious to everyone, the way Yamaha has treated Ben.

    But two sides to the story, Yamaha wouldn’t be treating Ben this way if Ben (or mommy) hadn’t pissed them off in some way. Spies really needs to get on with life as an Adult, having your mom manage you as an Adult in MotoGP makes him a bit of a laughing stock.

  • Faust

    @Jake “But the other thing is Yamaha’s are generally reliable but Ben had all kinds of problems with the R1 when he went to SBK. After he left that team didn’t repeat those issues (and there were none before he got there either).”

    It’s worth mentioning Jake that Ben went to the SBK team on the first year of the new bike, with the new engine layout. Of course they had more issues their first year on the new bike, and of course after a year of development they had less issues the following year. I’m not sure why you would blame Ben for that, since it’s quite normal for a new bike to have some issues to work out. I mean, just look at the BMW and ZX-10R.