Two rider announcements over the weekend tossed 2014 a bit up in the air. First, Texan Ben Spies, former U.S. and World Superbike champion, announced his retirement from racing. Spies, in the middle of a two-year contract with Ducati in Moto GP, has only run two races this year as he struggles with a badly-damaged shoulder that simply won’t heal – not to mention getting further damaged each time he’s on the bike.
Rather than risk permanent injury Spies has decided to hang up his leathers. “I am tremendously disappointed that I have not been able to fulfill my personal goals and team goals with Ducati. I want to thank everyone from racing organizations, factories, teams and all my fans for helping me and supporting me throughout my career. I never dreamed that I would reach the level of success that I have over the past 20 years of racing, but the time has come to stop and I do so with great sadness.”
Whether Spies will be replaced in 2014 isn’t certain, as there has been talk of Ducati scaling back its efforts to three from the present four entries.
On the World Superbike side, the Italian company split last week with the Alstare team that was running its WSB efforts. The reason would appear to be sponsorship issues, although the Panigale’s notable lack of success and retirement of star rider Carlos Checa no doubt weighed into Alstare’s decision.
Ducati will apparently take the team back in house, and have signed Italian Davide Guigliano and Welsh ace Chaz Davies for 2014-15. Guigiliano was with the Althea Aprilia team, while Davies was left free after BMW’s decision not to return in 2014.
Spies – Sad story.
Definitely sad, but not much of a surprise. The last two years have been unimaginably bad for him.