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Ben Spies: There’s one kid who could cut it…

"There's one kid over here that I know 100% could cut it" - Ben Spies on future American talent.
In an exclusive interview with, former MotoGP star Ben Spies spoke about the challenges facing young American riders at present.

The Texan, who won three AMA Superbikes in the US, made the transition to WSBK with instant title success in 2009, then moved to MotoGP in 2010. But in the last five years he has seen the huge difficulties facing his younger fellow countrymen.

While it is only four years since MotoGP saw "Team Texas" with Spies partnering Colin Edwards at Tech 3, there has been a dearth of talent coming through from the once hugely productive American schools of Flat Track and Superbikes.

When asked about future talent in Texas and the United States, a clearly disappointed Spies replied:

"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."

Asked who that rider was, the former World Superbike champion singled out Cameron Beaubier as an example that there still is talent in the US. However the difficulties placed in front of such riders make it hard for them to shine.

"Beaubier is good and I've followed him since he started racing and he got hurt the year after, and his team-mate 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 today 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 Americans over there and also give some of the Europeans 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."

Spies, winner of the 2011 Dutch TT, was forced to retire from MotoGP at the end of last season due to injury.

Tagged as: Ben Spies

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April 11, 2014 2:11 AM

Spies makes some very valid points. First, Cameron Beaubier is definitely ready for the world stage. The kid has that "it factor" and has the chops to make the next move. Secondly, the AMA's decline began when the economy cratered here in '07. I know the Spanish economy has suffered as well but motorsports, particularly motorcycle racing, is much more of a mainstream sport in Spain. Unfortunately in the ginormous country known as the USA, motorsports and more specifically motorcycle racing are a fringe or niche sport. Not to say there isn't a huge participating motorcycle population, just not the type to drive the mighty dollar, er, television ratings. AMA Supercross gets the coverage and ratings, that's about it. Quite a bummer for us gearheads here in the US.

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