MotoGP: Ben Spies gets official wild card confirmation

1 of 1

Suzuki has finally officially confirmed that Ben Spies will get his big MotoGP chance in the two American races later this season.

The reigning AMA superbike champion will ride a third factory Suzuki GSV-R alongside Chris Vermeulen and Loris Capirossi in the Laguna Seca and Indianapolis races. Spies will also be present for Suzuki at the forthcoming Indianapolis tyre test on July 1 and 2, 2008.

The long-awaited move for Spies was finally confirmed after Suzuki management meetings during the last MotoGP race in China earlier this month.

Final confirm of his Laguna Seca and Indianapolis chances gives Spies a golden opportunity to put himself in the shop window for a 2009 MotoGP job.

Spies has made no secret of his intention to quit the American superbikes series to ride in MotoGP next year, but Suzuki has yet to confirm whether it will run three bikes in 2009.

Regardless, Spies’ two wild card rides, which follow an impressive but brief Suzuki GSV-R debut in Valencia last November, give him the chance to stake his claim for a permanent ride in 2009.

Factory team boss Paul Denning told MCN: “Mr Oonishi, head of Suzuki’s racing group has confirmed that Ben will be running at the Indy tyre test in early July and then at the Laguna Seca race and at the Indy race.

“We are obviously pleased to have a very exciting prospect riding one of our bikes in those two races and extremely interested not how he performs in terms of results, but to assess his potential in those races.”

Denning said there would be no pressure on Spies to perform to secure himself a full-time ride, but added:  “It’s not really a question of looking at that situation as much as it is giving a young rider who is clearly very talented with a very strong work ethic and a very good attitude towards his racing a chance to show what he can do. 

“I don’t think results will be particularly relevant but we are fully expecting him t do well and be competitive.”

Spies impressed Denning and the factory team when he tested a Suzuki GSV-R after the final race in Valencia and the Rizla team boss said he was looking forward to seeing the Texan at a competitive MotoGP weekend.

“He is a good guy and he’s got an extremely hard working attitude towards his racing and I think over the last couple of years he has stepped up his level quite considerably in terms of understanding what he needs out of the bike and not just relying on raw talent to get the job done.

“If there was a single thing that impressed us in Valencia was his ability to adapt. He was able to adapt to recommendations in terms of riding style and how to get the best out of the bike and he changed his style quite easily without any big problems.

“He was able to understand quite quickly what was needed in terms of getting the best out of the bike and that was impressive considering his lack of experience,” said Denning, who conceded that Spies might be tempted elsewhere in MotoGP if Suzuki couldn’t offer him a firm deal for 2009.

Spies is desperate to move to the premier class, and Suzuki is conscious of that desire with Denning adding: “He is a Suzuki guy and been with us all of his professional career and it makes sense for us to try and keep him in that fold.

“Irrespective of a having a third bike, with the factory team there still has to be room for Suzuki to consider running Ben on a GP bike, whether its in the factory team or a third machine.

“I think it is a bit too early to really know where Suzuki priorities will lie and where we are going to end up. But there’s always a consideration list and Ben will very much figure on that list.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt