Ben Spies’s sophomore MotoGP season  of 2011 can only be described as a wild roller coaster ride. The former AMA and World Superbike champion finished on the podium four times in 2011 including a legitimate alien-slaying maiden victory at Assen, but was also tempered by an equal number of non-scores and several other generally forgettable weekends.

Indianapolis was the scene of a season highlight for the Texan. Running Yamaha’s red and white 50th anniversary GP colors for the final time, Ben sliced his way to a podium finish against track conditions that provided no real passing line to speak of and finishing behind only the lightning fast Hondas of Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa.

Having nearly won the last race of the 800cc era, Ben will no doubt be looking to challenge for the 2012 title. “There’s always a changing of the guard”, he has been quoted as saying on more than one occasion. Could he be referring to himself? Time will tell.

Dan Lo is a motorsport photographer who covers AMA Superbike, World Superbike, and MotoGP. His online portfolio is at and he can also be found on Facebook and Twitter. For this year, Dan is looking to expand his coverage to the Isle of Man TT via Kickstarter. A big ‘”thank you” to everyone who donated, and helped send Dan to this year’s TT.

Photo: © 2011 Daniel Lo / Corner Speed Photo – All Rights Reserved

  • Westward

    Spies is by far the best talent coming from AMA and WSBK. (including Toseland, Bayless, and Edwards) He is also better than Hayden, even when he was in his prime. But I doubt Spies will have all the fortunate circumstances that Hayden or even Lorenzo had in winning their titles.

    If he wins it all in MotoGP, it will be a tough fight or a clear domination. Either way, his talent shows. He doesn’t necessarily need any luck, but he surely could use a talisman to ward off the bad luck…

  • 76

    Momentum and alittle luck and he can be up there, you can see in his riding that theres still some room for him to be more aggressive and confident and as stated has had his far share of bad luck in the last year or so. Spies has proven in the past to be mentally strong enough for whatever wall is in front of him and I think barring injury he will prove it again. Jerez should be good!

  • Riccardo

    By Wesward…

    “But I doubt Spies will have all the fortunate circumstances that Hayden or even Lorenzo had in winning their titles.”

    Pure Rossi fan rethoric.

  • ngads

    @ Westward:
    I’m a rossi fan and yes hayden may have been a bit “lucky” but he had his fair share of bad luck that season too and still came out on top. As for lorenzo, you can’t knock someone who nearly finished on the podium every race. Thats impressive with rossi there or not.

    On topic….Good luck Spies!

  • Halfie 30

    I actually see a lot of similarities in Spies and Edwards Westward. Colin in his prime on the RC51, if you put Ben on that bike he would probably ride it very similarly. In any case Spies is Americas big hope in the big class. Machinery will hold Nicky back, and Colin being the fastwst CRT Bike may not get him a rostrum this year. Any thing is possible though!!! Should be a great year! Let’s all sit back and enjoy!!!!

  • Westward

    @ Riccardo

    “Pure Rossi fan rhetoric.” – Rossi’s retired from the races at Laguna and LeMans because of engine failure in 2006. At LeMans he was winning that race by a large margin, and the bike just simply stopped into the last corner of the last lap. Losing to Elias at Estoril can be attributed to Rossi, as was falling in Valencia. But when your bike’s engine just stops, that is not Rossi’s fault. Besides, Hayden also benefited from the debacle that was Catalunya. Rossi aside, had Capirossi not been caught up there, he would have more likely been the 2006 MotoGP Champion.

    @ ngads

    Lorenzo in 2010 benefited from Stoner not getting along with his bike, Pedrosa & Rossi missing races due to injury. Even De Puniet was surging to the front row on his satellite bike, and even he missed races due to injury as well. In the era of the Aliens, who else was suppose to triumph, if not Lorenzo…

    @ Halfie 30

    I see your point, but Spies has what Edwards has not accomplish, and that is a victory in MotoGP. He also has more podiums than Bayless. Should he be at this level as long as Hayden, or even less, Spies should have more podiums and victories than him too. He might even have the best chance to win it all, without it being seen as a fluke by the masses…

    I would like to see that…

  • Damo


    If you look at Edwards resume, you’ll notice it is actually quite a bit more impressive than Spies. However, given time, I do agree Ben can surpass him.

    He better get some good results this season though if he has any hope to retain that factory ride.

  • Westward

    @ Damo


    lets repeat, Edwards never won a race in Motogp, and Spies has. Spies took 14 victories in WBSK, his first and only season he participated whilst taking the championship on a Yamaha, a bike that has never won it before…

    Edwards is an impressive pilot, and talented in his own right, he just is not nearly as talented as Spies…