Ben Spies Speaks To Cycle World About Why He Left Yamaha
The 2012 MotoGP season was one which was absolutely full of surprises. One of the very biggest was surely Ben Spies' shock decision to leave Yamaha at the end of 2012, something which nobody had seen coming. The move was unexpected in part because the Yamaha was clearly a highly competitive bike, as Jorge Lorenzo's world championship demonstrated. But most shocking of all was the way in which Spies announced his intention to move: via tweeting a link to an interview given in the early hours of a July morning to Superbikeplanet.com's Dean Adams.
Announcing your resignation by Social Media is highly unusual, to say the very least, and hinted at some very deep and dark motives behind the move. Under normal circumstances, the team the rider is leaving draws up a press release, and the departure takes place in an orderly fashion. This was the PR equivalent of a unilateral nuclear strike, especially when Spies told Adams that he had decided to leave Yamaha for "a litany of reasons." What those reasons were he could not disclose - other than mentioning to reporters at Indianapolis that a Yamaha official had spoken to him at Mugello and told him not to bother coming to Laguna Seca if he wasn't prepared to put in 100% - until his Yamaha contract expired on December 31st, 2012.
Now, January 2nd, 2013, Spies is no longer under contract to Yamaha, and therefore is at liberty to speak. He chose the venerable US publication Cycle World to speak to, and in a long and fascinating article explains why he left Yamaha, and the decision-making process that led him to sign with Ducati, to race with the Pramac Ducati Junior team alongside Andrea Iannone. Clearly, the way he was spoken to at Mugello, where he was totally incapacitated by food poisoning, played a major role in his decision to move. But it came on top of a host of mishaps which started at Qatar and lasted almost all season long. Spies is at pains to point out that he always had the same equipment as Jorge Lorenzo, but that it was frustrating that misfortune always seemed to strike him, rather than his teammate Lorenzo.
Perhaps even more interesting than his reasons for leaving Yamaha is his description of where the strongest points of the Yamaha lie, and how it was diametrically opposed to his natural riding style. The smoothness which the Yamaha demands, coupled with the fastidious nature of the Bridgestone tires, made it very difficult for Spies to get the bike to do what he wanted. Spies also walks the readers of the article through the process by which he ended up at Pramac Ducati, much of which is also related to his riding style.