With all the news emerging about riders switching teams for the 2008 season with only half the season done, MotoGP followers were expressing incredulity that the "Silly Season" had started so early. Now, it just got worse: For the first news is starting to emerge about the 2009 season, some 17 months away.
Motorcycle News is reporting that Ben Spies believes he has a deal to ride with Suzuki in MotoGP in 2009. Spies told MCN that he really wanted to ride in MotoGP next year, but with Chris Vermeulen already signed, Suzuki being close to a deal with Loris Capirossi, and the chances of a third Suzuki bike running next year looking increasingly unlikely, the possibility of switching was not open to Spies for 2008. Spies also stated that he expects to have several wildcard rides next year, as preparation for a full-time switch in 2009.
There was some doubt as to whether Ben Spies would actually make the move to MotoGP. Spies has a well-publicized fear of flying, the result of a couple of bad experiences in aircraft early in life, including looking out of the window as a child, only to see the engine of the plane on fire. There was also some doubt as to the Texan's motivation: Spies, like many racers in the AMA, is very well paid, and is unlikely to see much of a pay hike if he moves to MotoGP. But Spies' desire to measure himself against the very best in the world seems to be motivation enough to put up with the flying.
Spies' move, if it comes about, raises a very interesting prospect of a clash of the series. By 2009, James Toseland should be in the MotoGP series - if he is not, then he is unlikely ever to make it - and that year could also see the entry of Spanish 125 champion and current 250 ace Alvaro Bautista into the class. Added to the likes of Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo, whose move to MotoGP with Yamaha was announced yesterday, we should finally get an answer to the question of which series produces the best riders, and provides the best preparation for MotoGP.