Ben Spies has been backed to bounce back from a nightmare 2012 MotoGP campaign when he jumps on Ducati’s unforgiving Desmosedici this year.
The Texan suffered a wretched second season in Yamaha’s official factory squad last year when a combination of rotten luck and unforced errors saw him slump to a disastrous 10th in the final championship standings.
The 2009 World Superbike champion failed to score a podium in 2012 and he dropped a bombshell on the eve of his home race in Laguna Seca back in July that he would be leaving Yamaha’s factory squad at the end of the season.
He looked certain to be returning to World Superbikes, but after negotiating with Fausto Gresini about a satellite Honda ride, he opted to continue his MotoGP career on a Ducati Desmosedici with the Pramac outfit.
Spies has not yet got his first chance to gauge the size of the task he faces on a finicky Desmosedici after he missed pre-Christmas test sessions in Valencia and Jerez while recovering from surgery to a shoulder he badly damaged in a crash during the rain-lashed Sepang clash in Malaysia.
He made his first public appearance for the Pramac Ducati team during the Bologna factory's official works team launch in Italy last week.
And though has been backed to show his true potential again in 2013 by his former Yamaha boss Massimo Meregalli.
Meregalli ran Yamaha’s WSB squad in 2009 when Spies clinched the title and the Italian has worked closely with him in 2011 and 2012.
Meregalli told MCN: “I really believe that a long break will help him recharge the batteries and to forget all the bad luck he had. He is a tough guy and he never gave up and I still believe with a new team he can get the results that unfortunately we couldn’t achieve with him.”
Meregalli denied that Spies had found it difficult to cope with pressure of being a factory rider in MotoGP or struggle to be able to match the form of teammate Jorge Lorenzo, who won six races on his way to a second premier class crown last season.
Meregalli added: “To ride for a satellite team for sure gives you less pressure but we had lots of problems and you become unhappy about your position in the championship and this builds up more and more pressure and when you can’t ride smoothly and relaxed the mistakes can happen. It is very difficult to judge the reasons behind why the season turned out like it did, but it is clear that the expectations were completely different.”
Spies will make his Ducati debut when winter testing resumes at the Sepang track on February 5.