Ben Spies Stays With Factory Yamaha For 2012 Season

It is no secret that Yamaha have a very high opinion of Ben Spies. Ever since their international racing arm based in Italy managed to lure Spies away from Suzuki, Spies has had full backing from Yamaha, and Spies has in turn rewarded them with a World Superbike title and the MotoGP Rookie of the Year title.

So it comes as no surprise to learn that Yamaha have agreed terms for an extra year with the Texan. The team announced today that Spies has had his contract extended to include the 2012 season as well, meaning that Yamaha's factory line up for the new 1000cc class will remain unchanged from this year, Spies lined up alongside Jorge Lorenzo. 

The deal allows Spies to test Yamaha's new 2012 MotoGP bike at Mugello, and introduces stability to the team during the rule changeover. Given the cardinal rule of engineering (only ever change one thing at a time), having the same rider line up eliminates one variable from the mix. All three major manufacturers now have their current two leading riders signed up for 2012, with Andrea Dovizioso at Repsol Honda the only exception.

With Spies now signed for 2012, all of the top factory riders have contracts for the 2012 season, tying up both riders and bikes and killing off any silly season speculation. It does, however, foreshadow a vast amount of paddock gossip about who will be going where in 2013. Expect the first 2013 silly season rumors shortly after the 2012 MotoGP season gets underway.

Below is the press release announcing the contract extension for Spies from Yamaha:

Yamaha confirm Ben Spies contract extension


Gerno di Lesmo (Milan, Italy), 8th June 2011 – Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. and Ben Spies have signed a one year extension to the current rider agreement that will see Ben Spies continue as a Yamaha Factory Racing rider in 2012.

Lin Jarvis

Lin Jarvis, Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing, said "We are obviously delighted to announce the continuation of our partnership with Ben for the 2012 season and we hope that he will remain at Yamaha for many years to come. Ben has shown his ability to successfully compete at the highest level; firstly by becoming Yamaha's first World Superbike champion in 2009 and then attaining the status of Best Rookie in 2010 with the Tech3 Yamaha Team.

His transition to the Yamaha Factory Racing team in 2011 has just begun and we have every confidence in Ben's abilities and high potential for the future. This timely decision now allows us to concentrate on the present championship and, in parallel, to prepare for our 2012 MotoGP program with the change to the 1000cc bikes."

Ben Spies

"I am very happy to say that I will remain a part of the Yamaha family," said Ben Spies, "and that I will continue in the MotoGP series for 2012. This is a privileged time of my career riding for the most successful team in recent years at the very highest racing level. Yamaha has been great in supporting me through World Superbike and on to MotoGP and I want to thank them for all they have done, and for giving me their trust to continue in MotoGP in 2012. I especially would like to say thank you to Lin Jarvis and Masahiko Nakajima for their support."

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He's had a rough start to the season until last week, hoping he'll kick some ass now that he's got a podium to get his confidence back

Is Spies keeping his options open, or is Yamaha keeping their options open (or both)?

Yam might be keeping their options open for Cal if/when he starts being a regular up the sharp end? To me, it's looking more and more likely.

I almost wonder if they're thinking about Cal to replace Lorenzo. I know it sounds crazy but Lorenzo's contract will end and after last year's silly season it really doesn't seem as though Lorenzo is 100% loyal to Yamaha. Couple that with the fact he's really done nothing but complain about the bikes development and performance...

Lorenzo is the most talented rider they have in their system since the departure of Rossi...The ONLY place Jorge would think about going is Repsol Honda who would have to drop Dovi and still maintain a 3-bike repsol, 4 factory bike lineup. Now if Honda really wants the first 1000cc title, then I guess it would overkill and probably create more inter-team problems then solve by running Stoner, Pedrosa, and Jorge all together....I'm not saying it's impossible, but I'm not sure Honda is willing to pay for all that.

This really depends on how much you let the paranoia get to you. If you think, as I do, that Repsol wants a Spanish World Champion more than anything else, then yes, signing Jorge is a possibility.

However, I just don't see Yamaha letting Jorge walk. Yes he has been complaining about the bike a lot, but wouldn't you seeing the Honda's who were much slower last year come out of the woodwork and top the time sheets all the while knowing that its because of HRC's all or nothing surge in upgrades? Clearly, it's not Lorenzo skills that are diminishing, he is still the points leader and has had some very strong races this year...And although I do believe that Spies will become an Alien eventually, I don't think that he's proven himself to be a #1 factory rider just yet.

I would doubt Yamaha is taking the Ducati/Stoner approach to Jorge disbelieving that their bike has issues. However I think you are going to be hearing a lot less from Jorge in the near future. Ever since receiving that new engine for qualifying and race, the Yamaha's have been pretty strong, not Honda strong, but getting very close.

Spies being lured away from Suzuki is the best thing thats ever happened to him

Absolutely! I couldn't believe it when they wouldn't run him in MotoGp or WSB for 2009. Another shrewd signing for Yamaha. Talk about dropping the ball by suzuki.

They also let J.Hopkins go when he was fighting for podiums & finished 4th in the WC (I think). I think they should have retained Chris Vermeulen also..

I'm pleased that Yamaha have retained Ben's tallent for 2012. Ambition is an issue within any GP squad. They all want to 'top' records. George is currently the younger,faster and more experienced rider, but Ben is getting there.
I'm definitely not suggesting that Ben will beat George in the title chase this year barring injury and DNF's.
I do believe Yamaha made a very clever move by retaining Ben for 2012.
By the same token,I can't see George riding for HRC as long as Dani and Simmo are in the loop.
A dissillusioned George may well consider a move to Ducati sometime hence at whomever's expence. Ducati may well be forced to consider a move to acquire him at some stage as they attempted in 2009. Ageing Aces,delivering publicity and not much else before a jaundice eyed racing audience won't carry the torch for the Del Torchio setup forever.
Right now,no bother at Yamaha and a sensible move by Jarvis and the Yamaha team. Rider wise...strength in depth .

You think Vale isn't fast anymore? He may not be as fast as Casey was on the Ducati, but he certainly is getting very close and it shows by is race times compared to Stoner at the same track.

I don't Jorge would touch that Ducati with a 12' pole right now. It's clearly a downgrade from the Yamaha, and worst of all, it's being developed by his biggest rival so even if Rossi retired with a fixed Ducati (at which point he wouldn't retire, he would keep winning world championships) you really think Jorge is going to open himself up to the criticism again of hopping on a bike that the 9-time world champion developed and not himself?

Lorenzo is staying with Yamaha for a long time. His recent complaining about the bike is fair given the pace of the Hondas. Yamaha took a huge risk on youth by letting Vale walk in order to retain Lorenzo. Yamaha is not going to just let that walk away.

I'm sorry pit, i normally agree with most of your posts but this one isn't one of them...

If Ducati is going to go after another #1 rider I can tell you exactly who it will be.... SuperSic Simoncelli.

For a disillusioned Jorge to move to Ducati you'd have to believe the 'ageing publicity ace' was still capable of turning the bike into a real contender(otherwise why would he go??) and with a good bike why would ducati need anyone other than Rossi?? Can't see Jorge anywhere but Honda next year(without a big change at Yam), they are not so foolish as to believe that the current state of the bikes isn't playing a major part in the riders current form.

Good move for both Yamaha and Ben as well.

Ben is doing well on the 800 but next year the advantage of the lighter riders will be taken away by the better acceleration of the 1000cc machine. Ben will really showcase his unsurpassed talent next year.

Ben's ability is second to none and his racecraft and mental strength is right up there with Vale. Casey should enjoy his time in the sun while it lasts. Next year he will have a lot stiffer competition from the fat boys (Ben, Simo and Vale - big smile here).

Here's my predicts: Jorge got what he wanted from Yamaha: no Rossi and number 1 status. He's not going anywhere. Dovi is out at Repsol Honda, Stoner/Pedrosa stay. Simo stays put on a factory Honda. Rossi/Hayden stay put.
Lorenzo will struggle all season on that bike. He's not a particularly gifted "setup" guy, and the bike/team are struggling. But really where else could he go? No one in their right mind would go to Ducati. That bike is crap. Honda won't run three riders again-they didn't wanna do it this year but Dovi forced their hand. That leaves only Yamaha. And them letting Jorge get away would look really bad, letting Rossi go, then struggling all season.
No, Jorge and Yamaha are stuck with each other.

Frankly we don't know if Lorenzo is good in "developing" a bike since he had the huge benefit of jumping on Rossi's creature. But I wouldn't dare to say anything on his "setup" skills. That's an area where apparently he is extremely good.
Last year he was always faster and most of the times better than Rossi in setting up the bike.....