As expected, Ben Spies will race in the World Superbike Championship in 2009 after concluding his deal to race for Yamaha Italia.

The 24-year-old Dallas rider comes to the series clutching 28 victories and three AMA Superbike titles, as well as crucial MotoGP experience with the Rizla Suzuki team.

However, having been snubbed for a MotoGP berth, Spies has left the Suzuki fold to pursue the chance of a winning ride in World Superbikes instead

Hailing this as a good move for his career, Spies is delighted to be following in the footsteps of some revered American legends, including Doug Polen and Colin Edwards.

"I'm very excited about joining Yamaha in World Superbike," he said. "This is a positive step for the direction of my career. I'll have a great opportunity to race on many of the top road racing circuits in the world. Riding with a company as passionate about racing as Yamaha is going to put me in a good position to contest for a world championship right from the start."

"Superbike racing originated in America, but it's been a while since we've had an American world champion. There's a great tradition of American riders in World Superbike and I hope to put my name alongside great champions like Fred Merkel, Doug Polen, Scott Russell John Kocinski and Colin Edwards. "

"After considering my offers it became obvious to me that Yamaha would be a great home. Yamaha was excited about the possibility of me joining them and they just made me feel like I was coming into a great family. You look at how Yamaha treats its riders and how, even after their careers are over, they're always part of the Yamaha family.

"That was really important to me. I'm looking forward to the challenge at hand and to work with Yamaha to produce a winning team and ultimately a World Superbike Championship."

Partnering British Superbike race winner Tom Sykes, the decision to field an all-rookie line-up will be considered a risk for Yamaha, not least because they are replacing the exceptionally experienced Troy Corser and Noriyuki Haga.

However, team manager Massimo Meregalli has confidence in his pairing, labelling them as young and talented, even if he admits there will be much to learn for both riders.

"We're really enthusiastic to have signed Ben Spies for the 2009 team. He's proved to be a very skilful and successful rider in AMA Superbike, he has been one of the riders we have followed closely this year.

"We are sure he will be a great combination with Tom Sykes, the team are looking forward to starting with them both next year. There will be a lot to learn with new circuits and new bikes but we also have new motivation as a fresh team and will give 200% to help the riders win in 2009. "

"We're very excited to have Ben join the team" added Yamaha Motor Europe Racing Division Manager Laurens Klein Koerkamp. "He's proved to be a top rider with his AMA titles and recent rides in MotoGP, we believe he's got a long future ahead of him at the highest levels in motorcycle racing."