MotoGP world championship leader Jorge Lorenzo says he is sad and surprised that Yamaha team-mate Ben Spies will leave the Japanese factory at the end of 2012.
The Texan dropped a bombshell on the eve of his home race at Laguna Seca last weekend by announcing that he will leave Yamaha’s factory squad after a disappointing campaign.
The 2009 World Superbike champion hasn’t scored a podium in the opening 10 races of the season and he has been completely overshadowed by the brilliant performances of Lorenzo, who has won five races to lead Dani Pedrosa in the title hunt by 23-points.
Spies said he was leaving Yamaha for a litany of reasons but so far he has yet to break his silence on why he gave up one of the most coveted seats on the MotoGP grid.
His departure though will pave the way for a shock Yamaha return for Valentino Rossi, who won four world titles and 46 races on a 990cc and 800cc YZR-M1 between 2004 and 2010.
Spies is hotly-tipped to move back to World Superbikes and partner Marco Melandri in the BMW Italia squad but Lorenzo told MCN: “He must have some motive to make this decision. I don't know because I didn't speak with him.
"But it's sad because he's a rider with very high potential and he can do much better, so I thought if he stays being a Yamaha rider he can stay in MotoGP and demonstrate his talent. He could stay on the podium at least and win races some times, so I am surprised.”