As we predicted yesterday, the second-worst-kept secret in MotoGP was revealed today at Indianapolis, with the official confirmation that Ben Spies is to join the factory Yamaha team for 2011. The press release issued by Yamaha held very few surprises, though one or two interesting little details are available by reading between the lines. The first is that Spies is likely to take his American crew with him to the factory team, with Spies' reference to "his mechanics" almost certainly referring to crew chief Tom Houseworth and mechanic Greg Wood.
The second is that Fiat's departure from the factory Yamaha team now seems a given. The press release speaks only of Spies riding for the Factory Yamaha Team, rather than Fiat Yamaha, the team's current designation. The move has been widely anticipated, with Fiat heavily rumored to be leaving along with Valentino Rossi, and looking at ways of being involved in the Marlboro Ducati team. The press release follows below. Official photographs are available here and here.
Yamaha Factory Racing Team Press Release
Friday 27th August 2010
BEN SPIES TO JOIN FACTORY YAMAHA TEAM FOR 2011
Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd is delighted to announce that current Yamaha Tech 3 rider Ben Spies will move to the Factory Team for the 2011 MotoGP season.
The 26-year-old American, who won the World Superbike Championship with Yamaha in 2009, is enjoying an impressive first season in MotoGP. He is currently the leading rookie and the top satellite rider, lying seventh in the championship.
"We're delighted that Ben will join the Factory Team for next season," said Lin Jarvis, Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing. "Ben has shown great promise in his first ten MotoGP races. He has learnt rapidly and recorded strong results, including a well-deserved podium finish at Silverstone - impressive for someone in their first full season.
"We believe that Ben will be a future title contender and that he will be a good fit with our team. His mission next year will be to continue learning, consistently challenge for podium places and try to win some races. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Herve Poncharal and the Tech 3 Team for taking care of Ben this season and for giving him such good training for the years ahead. I hope that he will repay them by getting some more podium results in the second half of this season and helping them to secure top satellite team status at the end of this year."
Spies added "My first year in MotoGP has been a great learning curve and for that I have to thank Herve Poncharal, all the team at Tech 3 and especially my American mechanics who have stuck by me throughout this great journey so far. Having previously been to only four of the ten tracks to date, I have to be pleased with where I am and with having achieved my first podium so soon. I'm especially pleased that Yamaha have recognized the potential in me and given me the opportunity to step up to the Factory Team so early in my GP career. I believe that by working closely with the Yamaha staff and my mechanics we will be able to help develop the M1 and make the next step of challenging for regular podiums, followed by future championships."