MotoGP: Ben Spies bad luck 2012 season so far – review – Updated.

A pre- drama Tech3 Spies bike

Bad Luck. Two words that Ben Spies and his Yamaha crew seem to have uttered endlessly this season. There has been so much of it that a despondent Spies announced his decision to leave Yamaha in July. The likeable Texan has shown his worth in qualifying and ridden through food poisoning, but seems unable to get a break in 2012. This breakdown of his results so far shows just how much he has had to struggle against so far, with a race result comparison to Yamaha team mate for parity…

Qatar: Qualified 4th, finished 11th. Lorenzo – 1st

Spies suffered two crashes over the race weekend and major chatter during the night race.

Jerez: Qualified 6th, finished 11th. Lorenzo – 2nd

Complained of no front end feeling during the race.

Estoril: Qualified 5th, finished 8th. Lorenzo – 2nd

‘Elbowz’ ran wide after being fourth at the first corner, which dropped him to ninth, fought back to pass Bradl at the line to finish eighth.

Le Mans: Qualified 6th, finished 16th. Lorenzo 1st

Slid on the start/finish line paint in the wet, losing places. Also had a race visor which let in water, reducing vision and forcing the American to pit, causing his 16th place result.

Catalunya: Qualified 4th, finished 10th. Lorenzo 1st

If Spies thought things couldn’t get worse after the French GP he was mistaken, in the first corner things were looking up as he went from fourth to second, he then attempted to pass Pedrosa who was ahead of him, ran wide and crashed. He rejoined and showed determination to climb from last place to tenth by the end of the race.

Silverstone: Qualified 2nd, finished 5th. Lorenzo 1st

After qualifying second to Bautista, with a factory bike Spies was looking good pre-race and was first at turn one, tyre grip issues saw him drop to fifth, a seasons best in qualifying and race results for Spies at this point in the season.

Assen: Qualified 6th, finished 4th. Lorenzo DNF

Less than a week after Silverstone as Assen raceday is a Saturday saw Spies mini ‘good’ run continue. In third for most of the race, a late tyre problem when a chunk came off  left the American “worried the tyre would explode”, leaving him unable to defend a rapidly approaching Dovizioso on the Tech3 Yamaha, who passed him and kept him off the podium. The only race where he has finished higher than Lorenzo as the Spaniard was taken out at the first corner by countryman Bautista.

Sachsenring: Qualified 2nd, finished 4th. Lorenzo 2nd

Equalling his best qualifying from Silverstone he went on to equal his best finish result of fourth, struggled for grip by choosing the hard tyre and ended up battling the Tech3 Yamahas with his factory machine.

And now for the really bad luck…

Mugello: Qualified 9th, finished 11th. Lorenzo 2nd

Ben Spies had not been feeling well all weekend, as his lowest qualifying of the season indicates, and got worse over the race weekend. It transpired that the Texan was riding with food poisoning and was “fighting waves of dizziness and trying not to be physically sick in my helmet”.

Despite his 11th looking heroic after revealing how ill he was, Spies recently revealed how after this race he was told by high ranking Yamaha personnel that if he wasn’t going to give 100% in Laguna Seca he shouldn’t bother to show up. Before the next race  at Laguna Spies announced through social media and officially by press statement on 24th July that he was leaving Yamaha.

Laguna Seca: Qualified 4th, DNF. Lorenzo 2nd

The first of the two American rounds was where Spies suffered the ‘technical failure of the swingarm’, in the face of adversity Spies took events as well as he could stating “it’s nobody’s fault, but it’s more bad luck”. He tossed away his helmet after the accident, as mentioned in my story here :

If he hoped it would mean tossing the bad luck away with it he was mistaken –

Indianapolis: Qualifed 4th, DNF. Lorenzo 2nd

After initially taking the lead Spies suffered a massive engine failure when in 2nd place on lap six. Smoke poured everywhere obscuring the view of the riders behind. The engine was the same one which had been used in qualifying when Spies had a big crash.

Brno: Qualified 4th…….

Mid race weekend and as far as I can go, Spies has once again qualified well despite a crash, while most of the talk has been about if he will be returning to WSBK with Suzuki, who he has ridden with before and who plan to wildcard in MotoGP next year leading up to a full return in 2014. Spies was also rumoured to be in similar development talks with BMW.

New paddock whispers offer the interesting news that Ben Spies appears to have been offered a chance to change his mind and stay in MotoGP on a factory supported Gresini Honda, presumably the one currently used by Alvaro Bautista, Spies told :

“I know since I have been here we have had some good moments, some good times but I know that me and my team haven’t done what I know we can do. There are other options in World Superbike, it’s not just BMW, it’s not gone away at all, we just have some offers we are looking at right now and we have to decide.

“Honestly, I think if I left there isn’t much of a possibility I would be coming back, so it’s more looking at the packages we have here now, seeing if it is good enough to fight up front.

“The Suzuki offer is something that is on the table but I want to race so it depends on what their plan is and how quickly they decide to do wildcards and whether they decide to race in 2014 for the full season or move ahead in 2013.”

“(Gresini) would be a great bike. You’d always want a factory bike for sure but that team knows how to run and we have seen in the past that bike works good. That’s not the only one but it could be a really good ride and the team’s a great team.”

Personally I would love to see Spies give MotoGP another go, he has not yet been afforded the opportunity to shine as he did in WSBK, maybe a change of machinery could work as well for him as a change of championship, and for that Gresini would surely be his best remaining option.

UPDATE: Spies yet again failed to finish the race in Brno after overheating the clutch saw him drop to fourteenth only to then crash out on lap eight, saying afterwards that “‘I’m really disappointed not just for me but for the team as they’ve done an excellent job this weekend”.

UPDATE: Spies is expected to announce his plans for 2013 before the San Marino GP at Misano, he is rumoured to have already signed for the Ducati ‘Junior’ team, Expected to be run under the Pramac name despite their financial problems, with full Ducati factory support. Andrea Iannone has also made clear his links to the team and will likely partner Spies in the Italian factory’s new venture.


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