Ben Spies Told by Yamaha to Give 100% or Don’t Show Up

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“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