WSBK: Spies to World Superbike with Yamaha in ‘09
A sad day for suzuki riding ben spies fans:
SPEEDtv.com has concluded that triple AMA Superbike Champion Ben Spies, who will make his last appearance for Yoshimura Suzuki this weekend at Laguna Seca in the AMA season finale, will ride for the official Yamaha World Superbike team next year in the World Superbike Championship.
Neither Ben nor his manager, Doug Gonda, can confirm this yet, due to contractual agreements, but Spies and his mother, Mary, visited the Yamaha factory workshops in Italy earlier this week. This plus the fact that three reliable and independent Italian sources have informed SPEEDtv.com that the Yamaha Motor Italia team, directed by Massimo Meregalli, has reached an agreement with Spies, convince us that the Texan will be with Yamaha in SBK in 2009. In spite of a promising test ride by French MotoGP rider Sylvain Guintoli (currently riding with Alice Ducati in MotoGP) at Vallelunga last Monday, Yamaha has found their replacement for Noriyuki Haga.
This we know:
Gonda contacted several MotoGP and World Superbike teams. Suzuki seemed the logical choice, but the Rizla Suzuki MotoGP team renewed contracts with both their riders. It seemed at Indianapolis that there could be an agreement with Gianluca Montiron, owner of the JiR Honda team, but Honda could not supply an additional bike having already committed their last available RC212V to Japanese rider Yuki Takahashi and the Scot Racing Team. There were also advanced talks with the Ducati Xerox team in World Superbike, but the combination of Spies' high salary demands and Ducati's insistence on at least a two-year deal stopped that deal.
No details of the Spies contract are known, but it was his manager’s intention to either clinch a single-year deal or a multi-year agreement that included the possibility of wild card MotoGP riders and eventual promotion to a factory-supported team. He will team with young British star Tom Sykes, currently riding for Rizla Suzuki in the British Superbike Championship.
Both Gonda and Meregalli repeated today (Saturday, September 27) that no statement could be made until September 30th.
Spies will be the first American to ride a factory bike in World Superbike since fellow Texan Colin Edwards (then with Honda) won the 2002 title from Troy Bayliss (Ducati) on the final day of the season at Imola.
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