Ben Spies close to shock Gresini Honda deal?

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Ben Spies is edging closer to committing his future to MotoGP after it emerged in Brno today he is locked in talks over a shock move to the Gresini Honda squad for 2013.

The Texan seemed certain to switch to World Superbikes to partner Marco Melandri in a BMW Italia squad next season after he announced he will quit Yamaha’s factory MotoGP squad ahead of last month’s Laguna Seca race.
But MCN understands that current factory BMW rider Leo Haslam has suddenly been offered a 2013 deal with Melandri, strongly suggesting that Spies has rejected the offer.

Fausto Gresini confirmed to MCN in the Czech Republic earlier this evening that he is locked in talks with Spies about a deal that would see him replace Spaniard Alvaro Bautista.

The approach was made in Indianapolis last weekend and Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta is believed to be pushing Gresini and title sponsors San Carlo to hire the 2009 World Superbike champion.

San Carlo management are in the Brno paddock and earlier Spies told MCN: “There is a possibility of staying here but it is slim and after Indy I was approached by a couple of different people.  World Superbikes is something I’m still looking at very strongly and now I’m also looking at some GP offers but I can assure you nothing is done yet. It comes down to the fact that I feel I haven’t shown 100% of what I can do, and I know that. I don’t want to look back in 10 years and say maybe I left too soon but to stay it has to be the right package and that is what I am working on right now.”

Speaking specifically about the option to join Gresini Honda, he added: “It would be a great bike and you would always want to try and have a factory bike in that team. Gresini always runs a good team and all the top factory bikes work good. That’s not the only one but it could be real good ride in a great team.”

Gresini has previously enjoyed full factory support from HRC for Daijiro Kato, Sete Gibernau and most recently Marco Simoncelli.

It hasn’t been confirmed yet whether Spies will be offered a factory RC213V machine identical to Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez.

But he also confirmed to MCN that the option to develop Suzuki’s new GSV-R 1000cc machine and race it in selected wild card appearances in 2013 was an option. He would then spearhead a full-time Suzuki return in 2014.

He added: “It is something that has been put on the table. But I want to race so it depends on what their plan is and how quickly they can move along with doing wild cards or whether they will race in 2013 or 2014.

News of the Gresini approach to Spies and his confirmation that he is seriously interested could see the triple American Superbike champion complete a massive career U-turn.

Speaking only just over a week ago in Indianapolis his comments suggested he had no intention of racing in MotoGP in the future. He dropped a bombshell on the eve of his home race in Laguna Seca last month by announcing his decision to quit the Yamaha factory squad he joined at the beginning of last season. He cited a ‘litany of reason’ for his decision.

He’d told MCN at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway: “If I am racing next year it will be in World Superbikes. But I haven’t decided if I am going to be racing next year. We could have stayed in MotoGP this year but that was not an option for me. I just don’t think I will come back. I’ve raced in every series and I know that there is fun to be had in racing. I know how it is here and I had to try it and it was a dream of mine always to be here but it is not always what it is cut out to be and what people think about it. Here it is very cut throat but it is also the pinnacle of racing so it is always going to be like that. I have raced in every series now and I know what’s fun, and I know how much you can enjoy riding. A lot of people here haven’t experienced that and I have and that’s why I came up with that decision. I want to be in a good and fun environment and that’s all there is too it.”

Spies has endured a nightmare 2012 and he has yet to score a podium in the new 1000cc era. His season has been dominated by bad luck and he failed to finish in Laguna Seca and Indianapolis after suffering major mechanical failures.

He is currently 10th in the championship standings with only 66-points. That’s 159 less that team-mate and world championship leader Jorge Lorenzo.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt