Valentino Rossi issues warning to Ben Spies

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Valentino Rossi believes Ben Spies can make a big impact in MotoGP in 2010 but warned the American star his hugely anticipated switch from World Superbikes will not be easy.

Spies will quit World Superbikes at the end of the season and replace British rider James Toseland in the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad.

But 30-year-old Rossi, who is closing in on a seventh MotoGP world title in 2009, said Spies will not find the transition to Yamaha’s YZR-M1 machine an easy one because of the riding style now required on the 800cc bikes. “For me, the MotoGP riding style is very close to a 250 riding style now.

“Riders like Jorge (Lorenzo), Dani (Pedrosa), (Casey) Stoner, and maybe (Marco) Simoncelli next year, arriving from 250 have a big advantage compared to the riders that arrive from World Superbike.

“The style of riding these bikes, especially with the Bridgestone tyres, is more similar to the 250s, and has a big difference compared to a superbike.

“Together with this, the 250 riders know all the tracks, and the World Superbike riders know just two or three.

“So I think it’s a lot more difficult for Superbike riders to arrive at the top in MotoGP, especially at the beginning, compared to riders from 250 like Jorge who arrived last year and made three pole positions in the first three races.

“But maybe it’s just a question of time, because Ben is young.

“I think he’s the only guy in Superbikes at the moment that is able to try to win in MotoGP,“ said Rossi.

Rossi is certainly confident that Spies will be able to make a successful switch to MotoGP, a task that has eluded several big names that have previously come from WSB.

And he also believes the arrival of the 25-year-old Texan will help MotoGP field its strongest ever line-up in 2010.

“I think Spies has the potential, but for sure he needs time to understand the bike and the tyres, and he has to demonstrate that he’s a top level MotoGP rider.

“I think it is also good for MotoGP because the quantity is not a lot, but the quality is very high.

“The number is not fantastic but with Ben all the best riders in the world will be riding in MotoGP and it will be more interesting.

“I expected Ben to make another season in World Superbike but his target was also to arrive in MotoGP.

“He has the chance to win the championship already this year because it is very close between him and Nori (Haga) and I think it is the right decision to come straightaway.

“He is quite young and he has an extra year now to gain experience in MotoGP and to understand this championship. He will be another great rival.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt