American Honda Won't Fund Ben Spies In MotoGP
Ben Spies progress into MotoGP, a path that looked so easy at the beginning of the year, has stalled, or so it seems. After Suzuki first failed to provide a third bike, and then decided to concentrate firstly on retaining their current rider line up, Spies had turned his attention elsewhere.
Reports started to surface about a possible link up with Honda, and especially a seat at Gresini. But the problem was Spies' salary demands, his expectations inflated from riding in the extremely well-funded AMA Superbike championship. With the AMA series in disarray after the takeover by the DMG, and the manufacturers looking likely to either pull out of racing in the US or set up a rival series, the US distributors suddenly seemed to have a surplus in their marketing budgets, and the press put two and two together, figuring that American Honda could well be interested in picking up the tab for Spies' salary. Nicky Hayden's impending departure from the Repsol team to Ducati was thought to have forced the issue, with American Honda wanting an American on a Honda in MotoGP.
According to Superbikeplanet.com's Dean Adams, however, when the press in Europe put two and two together, they came up with 37. Adams is reporting that American Honda has categorically denied being willing to pay Spies' salary if he rides for the Gresini Honda MotoGP team. If American Honda does have any excess budget for 2009, then they are unwilling to spend it at Gresini.
This looks like being the end of any chance that Ben Spies might get a seat in MotoGP next year. With money tight for most of the teams, and the open seats filling up quickly, and Spies still clinging to an AMA-sized salary, the Texan will find it hard to strike a deal. Spies does still have some offers in the World Superbike series, but he faces the same problem there. Until he drops a zero off the end of the money he's asking, it's going to be tough to find a seat.