Ben Spies right to delay World Superbike return

Published: 24 September 2012

Ben Spies was right to shun the opportunity to move back to World Superbikes to try and fulfil his potential in the MotoGP world championship.

The Texan seemed certain to be leaving MotoGP after he announced on the eve of his home race in Laguna Seca at the end of July that he would quit Yamaha’s official factory squad.

He was lining up a switch to the BMW Italia squad with Marco Melandri but then had a sudden and late change of heart to stay in MotoGP for 2013.

The 2009 World Superbike champion will join Italian rookie Andrea Iannone in the Pramac Ducati squad on factory-backed Desmosedici.

Spies also negotiated with Fausto Gresini’s satellite Honda squad having said he opted to remain in MotoGP to show his true potential and not have regrets in the future that he walked away too soon.

The 28-year-old’s factory Yamaha boss Massimo Meregalli told MCN he was relieved the American had decided to pledge his immediate future to MotoGP.

Meregalli said: “I can see he is very motivated about this new challenge. I think his riding style can suit the Ducati because he is pretty good on braking and very aggressive on the throttle.

"He still believes in himself and talking to him he knows that he can do better and I think he really wants to prove his value in this championship. Personally I think it would have been a mistake to go back to World Superbikes so quickly because he still believes in himself.

"I remember at the start of the year saying he could be one of the top four riders and I didn’t say this because he was my rider, but I really believe it.”

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team boss Herve Poncharal worked closely with Spies during an impressive debut MotoGP campaign in 2010.

A pole position and podium on home soil at Indianapolis and a rostrum at Silverstone earned Spies the chance to move to Yamaha’s factory squad with Jorge Lorenzo.

And Poncharal also believes it would have been a mistake for Spies to make a quick return to the World Superbike paddock.

Poncharal told MCN: “I think he has taken the wisest decision. What surprised me more than him moving to Ducati was when I read that Ben wanted to go back to World Superbikes.

"If I were his manager I would have told him it would have been a big mistake to go back to World Superbikes. If he had gone back I think it would have been almost impossible for him to return to MotoGP.

"I think Ben has the level to be a top MotoGP rider and when I remember what he did for us in 2010 he is definitely somebody that can win races.

"It is a tough challenge going to Ducati but for them it is a big coup because he has the speed, he still has a lot of room for improvement and he has something to prove.”