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Spies to MotoGP early, Toseland out of Tech 3?
17 September 2009
Reports suggest that 2009 World Superbike Championship leader Ben Spies has decided not to wait until 2011 to move to MotoGP, and will instead partner fellow Texan Colin Edwards at Tech 3 Yamaha next season.
Spies has 'already inked the deal' to ride for Herve Poncharal's team in 2010, despite a recent announcement that Spies would be staying in WSBK for one more year.
On September 4, Yamaha announced that Spies had signed a new two-year contract extension for 2010 and 2011.
The quotes from Spies that accompanied the announcement appeared conclusive: “I am very happy to say that I will continue in the WSBK series for 2010... I want to thank [Yamaha] for giving me their trust for a next career step into MotoGP in 2011."
However, the word 'foresees' in the statement itself triggered rumours that the schedule wasn't set in stone - 'The program foresees a season in 2010 with the Yamaha World Superbike Team and a switch to Yamaha's satellite MotoGP team for 2011' - while Lin Jarvis, managing director of Yamaha Motor Racing, carefully avoided specific dates:
"We are truly excited about the prospect of Ben's arrival into our future MotoGP program... Ben's primary mission is to win both his and Yamaha's first World Superbike title. After that when Ben eventually makes the move to the MotoGP championship we will be ready for him and, in line with the new MotoGP regulations, we will create a place for him within the Yamaha satellite team.”
Should Spies switch to Tech 3 a year early then it will mean that Englishman James Toseland is out of a job. Tech 3 has already made an offer to Edwards, which the 2009 MotoGP podium finisher is expected to accept.
Edwards is the top satellite rider with sixth place in the world championship standings, while Toseland is only 13th after a tough season.
Toseland finished his first MotoGP season in eleventh, and has claimed a best race finish of sixth in both 2008 and 2009.
Toseland's manager Roger Burnett has previously stated that the #52's other MotoGP options include Pramac Ducati and a possible new team, although the former double WSBK champion has a chance of more competitive seats in World Superbike.
As the only British rider in the premier-class, Dorna is likely to help Toseland remain somewhere on the grid.
Spies, a triple AMA Superbike champion who made his MotoGP debut as a wild-card with Rizla Suzuki last season, holds an 18 point lead over Ducati's Noriyuki Haga with three rounds and six races remaining in the 2009 WSBK season.
2009 is the Texan's first full year of world championship racing.
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