Spies and Iannone to enjoy “factory equipment” at Ducati in 2013


Having seemed on his way out of MotoGP two months ago when it was announced that Ben Spies would leave the factory Yamaha squad the American has been thrown a lifeline by Ducati.

The Bologna manufacturer announced this afternoon that Spies and Moto2 race winner, Andrea Iannone, will form the line-up for the Pramac squad in 2013.

The duo will have “a direct link to the factory and use official equipment.” In effect the much touted reports that Pramac will effectively operate as Ducati’s B squad have been confirmed rather than as a satellite squad as had been the case in recent years for the Italian team.

The news comes as little surprise given the events of recent weeks. Iannone tested for the team at Mugello and was instantly setting impressive laptimes aboard the difficult to tame GP12. The news over the weekend that Chaz Davies had signed for BMW in World Superbikes also confirmed the reports that Spies had decided against returning to the production based series.

For the American next season will offer him a chance of redemption. He has endured a miserable season at the hands to lady luck and Jorge Lorenzo. The season opened with a chassis fault in Qatar, a broken visor at Le Mans and his recent suspension failure at Laguna and blown engine at Indianapolis made it seem that if not for bad luck the 2011 Dutch TT winner would have no luck at all.

It seems a long time ago now given his struggles this year but Spies was tipped to be the most likely rider to join the “Aliens” of MotoGP. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since those days but a move to Ducati might reinvigorate him moving forward.

Of course looking at the struggles that Valentino Rossi has had with the bike will not fill a rider with confidence but for Spies it is clear that next season cannot be, realistically, considerably worse than the year he has had.

With Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso on the red factory machines and Spies on the Pramac Ducati will have an enviable trio of development riders. Whether the Bologna manufacturer listens to them is another issue however.

Rossi and his chief mechanic, Jeremy Burgess, have consistently complained about the team’s unwillingness to bend their philosophy towards what Rossi required. Ducati have their beliefs of how a motorcycle should be designed and not even a nine times world champion would be able to dissuade them.

The team however has shown signs that they are now willing to change their approach to racing. The move to supplying Pramac with factory bikes shows that Ducati has, finally, realised that having four riders providing data to the factory will help speed up development.

The changes came too late to keep Rossi onside. The Italian clearly had his heart set on a return to Yamaha for much of the year, and a return to a race winning package. His efforts and feedback in trying to tame the Ducati will be useful to the team going forward if they are truly willing to adjust their approach to development.

Today’s news from Italy is certainly encouraging and with Hayden, Dovizioso and Spies having bought in to the promise the future could be a lot brighter for Ducati than the dark clouds that have covered the Panigale region over the last number of years.

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