Ben Spies made his first appearance as a Ducati MotoGP
rider when he took part in Tuesday night's unveiling of the GP13 at Madonna di Campiglio.
The former World Superbike champion, whose upward MotoGP
trajectory was halted by a nightmare 2012 campaign, made one of the biggest gambles of his career by announcing he would not attempt to keep his Factory Yamaha seat.
Valentino Rossi has since taken his place, but at the time of Spies' surprise decision
- on the eve of the Laguna Seca round - the 2011 race winner was thought very much a contender to retain the ride alongside Jorge Lorenzo.
Spies then toyed with prospect of a return to WSBK, before weighing up satellite MotoGP
offers from Honda and Ducati.
The final choice of Pramac raised eyebrows - the team hasn't taken a podium since 2008 and the satellite Desmosedici has been the least competitive manufacturer entry for the past few seasons - but the lure of full factory support and Audi input seems to have swayed the Texan.
“I am excited to be a part of the Ducati family. This is something I've wanted from the beginning of my racing career,” said Spies during this week's Wrooom Press Ski Meeting, usually attended only by the two factory Ducati riders, but this year also featuring Spies and rookie Pramac team-mate Andrea Iannone.
“My team and I have our work cut out for us and new goals to meet, but we'll benefit from factory support and Audi coming on board. Ducati has four strong riders with different styles, which should improve the Desmosedici and bring it back up to the top where it belongs.”
Team manager Francesco Guidotti said Pramac is honoured to have secured Spies.
“Pramac Racing Team is honoured to welcome Ben Spies, who has enormous talent and a spectacular riding style,” he said.
“We're expecting a big challenge, but thanks to the important support of sponsor Ignite Asset Management and our new status as a Ducati factory-supported team, we are sure we will live up to expectations.
“With Ben, we'll endeavour to speed up the development process on the bike to achieve our objectives as soon as possible. We're enthusiastically looking forward to the 2013 season.”