Spies to Yamaha


Spies ensures the Suzuki is in good running order for his replacement.

It’s a match almost made in heaven … three-time U.S. superbike champion Ben Spies is going to Europe, albeit not on the Moto GP ride he’s been wanting. Spies, who’s been aching to get into Moto GP and in fact had three impressive wild card rides with Suzuki during 2008 (14th, eighth, and sixth), has signed a contract with the Yamaha Motor Italia team, Yamaha’s factory entry in the WSB series. 

He’ll join Brit youngster (23) Tom Sykes, who signed last week. The team lost both its riders, Noriyuki Haga to Ducati and Troy Corser to BMW, and has managed to replace both with younger talent in short order (Spies is only 24).

Despite his youth and speed, Spies seldom crashes and has an unbelievable record of having been on the podium in 90% of his AMA superbike races. With a second followed by three consecutive titles, he clearly doesn’t think he has anything else to prove on this side of the Atlantic.

A Yamaha press release quotes him as saying, “Superbike racing originated in America, but it’s been a while since we’ve had an American world champion. There’s a great tradition of American riders in World Superbike and I hope to put my name alongside great champions like Fred Merkel, Doug Polen, Scott Russell, John Kocinski and Colin Edwards."

Of course, a racing story wouldn’t be complete without a rumour, so try this one on: the word is that Yamaha is trying to convince Colin Edwards to swap his Yamaha Moto GP ride on the Tech 3 team with Spies. That would give Spies his Moto GP in, and get Edwards — a renowned development rider — on the brand-new R1. Why not?

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