MotoGP: Ben Spies to Leave Yamaha at End of Season

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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