In an exclusive interview with Stephen English Ben Spies talked about the challenges facing young American riders at present. The Texan, who won three AMA Superbikes in the US, made the transition to racing in Europe in 2009 and in the last five years he has seen huge challenges presented for younger American racers.
While it is only four years since MotoGP saw “Team Texas” with Spies partnering Colin Edwards there has been a dearth of talent coming through the once hugely productive American schools of Flat Track and Superbikes. When asked if he saw any signs of the same talent coming through in Texas and the United States a clearly disappointed Spies said:
“It’s not really good. It’s hard to say though because the money in the series means they’re racing basically street bikes and no other country is doing that. I’d say that there’s one kid over here that I know 100% that he could cut it. I don’t know how good he can be but he can be a top 15 rider in the world, he’s got that potential.”
When asked who that rider was the former World Superbike champion singled out Cameron Baubier as an example that there still is talent in the US but that difficulties placed in front of young riders is making it far too difficult to let a talented rider shine.
“Baubier is good and I’ve followed him since he started racing and he got hurt the year after, and his teammate was Marquez. The kid has got massive amounts of talent and I always notice that no matter where he is and what class he is racing in if someone goes faster he finds a way to go faster. He’s only slowed down by who he’s racing against. Beside him…there’s not really anyone present day that is a top 15 rider on the world stage but for sure he is. I know that he is.”
Spies, who followed in the footsteps of Edwards and Nicky Hayden as a Superbike rider, echoed the thoughts of many of his contemporaries by saying that reducing the AMA championship to five races with limited TV exposure has made it almost impossible for an American to compete with the Spanish championship:
“I’m a little bit irked by it because the economy is bad, and it was really bad, but look how many Spanish riders there are and look at their economy. How is that possible? It’s possible because the series gets their own riders in and giving them chances, I’m not saying about their talent because they’re great riders, but if you look at how big America is and if we had a good organisation with how many riders and how many people live here. Do you not think that there’s five guys that deserve to be over there?
“We don’t have the series or the infrastructure to get them to go over there in a good way. When you look at the economies it’s not like we’re the worst. I think that Dorna needs to start a series over here because then it can funnel more American’s over there and also give some of the European’s that can’t quite cut it over there a chance over here. It would give that diversity that we need and more riders. We need to look at different ways to do this but definitely the economy has held back racing series here.”