Is a return to Superbikes on the cards for Spies?


Ben Spies’ future looks set to be confirmed in the days leading up to this weekend’s US round of the MotoGP season.

The American is currently racing for the factory Yamaha squad but on Sunday evening he tweeted that, “You can say next year will be a bit different I’d say. Excited at all the prospects, stay tuned.”

Having underperformed throughout the current campaign Spies’ tweet would indicate that his future lies away from the factory team that he has called home for two years but now the question is where will the Grand Prix winner race next season.

A later tweet from Spies went on to say that, “I thought I’d be dramatic like all the sites and reporters are haha maybe nothing changes except to be back were we are meant to be!”

As a four time AMA Superbike champion and former World Superbike champion his second comment on the issue may be an indicator that a return to Superbikes is his likely move.

Having been convincingly out performed by Jorge Lorenzo over the course of the last two years Spies reputation has taken a pounding. The form and speed that he showed in WSBK and as a MotoGP rookie with Tech3 have not been seen for much of his time with the factory squad and it seems that Yamaha has run out of patience following a series of dismal races.

At numerous races there have been legitimate reasons for his failures but over the course of nine races it has been clear that his struggles are more than just failures relating to the bike.

In Qatar he had a chassis problem. In France he broke his visor at the start of a wet race following a near crash at the start of the race. Last time out in Mugello he was suffering from serious food poisoning.

The list of excuses coming from Yamaha and Spies has been extensive but one fact has always been clear-Lorenzo is leading the championship whereas Spies has hardly had a sniff of the podium.

If he leaves Yamaha his only realistic MotoGP option would be to return to Tech 3. The French team are likely to have at least one available spot with Cal Crutchlow still likely to sign with Ducati even though the Englishman confirmed at Mugello that he is still yet to receive a contract offer from the Italian factory.

If Spies does leave the team Andrea Dovizioso, who has claimed four podiums with Tech3, is the favourite to replace him although Valentino Rossi has been linked with a return to his former team where he won four premier class titles.

With Lorenzo confirmed at Yamaha and Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa at Repsol Honda Rossi is clearly central to the rest of the rider market with most other moves set to be related to his decision on who to ride for.

If he stays at Ducati it is all but inevitable that he will team up with Crutchlow leaving Dovizioso alongside Lorenzo at Yamaha.

This would give Spies the opportunity to continue racing in the premier class at Tech 3 but given his comments today it is clear that he is considering all available rides and presumably in all series.

Spies struggles have once again gone on to show just how difficult it is for riders to adapt to prototype Grand Prix racing from production based Superbikes. A return to WSBK or AMA would rightly be seen as a backwards step from Spies but this season has illustrated that he is not capable of winning the championship in MotoGP given just how competitive the likes of Lorenzo are.

Having seen how good Lorenzo is at close quarters Spies may have decided that his time would be better served in a series where he can win races and challenge for titles.

It is likely that this weekend at Laguna Seca, where the AMA Superbikes will race as a support series, will see Spies announce his plans.

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