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, 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."
"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."