3 October 2013
Ben Spies plays down WSBK return rumours
Ben Spies maintains his contract will see him riding a MotoGP bike next season, but Ducati could persuade him to opt for a WSBK ride instead...
2009 World Superbike Champion Ben Spies has cooled rumours of a potential return to the series in 2014 as speculation about a possible 'bargaining' switch with Ducati gather pace.
Spies has endured a torrid 2013 MotoGP season, his first as a Pramac Ducati rider following a move from the factory Yamaha team, the American hampered by an ongoing shoulder injury during the first half of the season before hurting himself again on his comeback at the Indianapolis Grand Prix.
Officially, Spies has signed a two-year contract to ride with Ducati in MotoGP, a fact he firmly clarified during an informal Q&A session on Twitter as he appeared to dismiss rumours of a switch from the premier series in a series of tweets.
“I'm signed up for a Ducati GP bike as of now! I have a contract for next season - I've read all the rumours but as long as I'm healthy I'll be back!”
However, with just two races under his belt this year and no confirmed return date from his latest injury, it is understood that Ducati are seeking an alternative agreement with Spies, citing his inability to fulfil performance clauses this season.
A solution could be to retain Spies as a Ducati rider, but revert to the World Superbikes Championship. Indeed, with its initial plans to place Nicky Hayden in the factory-assisted Alstare Ducati operation having seemingly fallen through due to the former champion's reluctance to leave MotoGP, Spies could be an alternative option.
Though the existence of a MotoGP contract may make a WSBK move something of a hard sell for Spies, both parties could stand to benefit hugely should he be able to call upon his formerly title-winning raw pace on a bike that has so far failed to shine in its current 1199 guise.
In addition, a Superbike would place less physical demands on a rider that has suffered persistent injuries over the last 18 months, while Dorna would likely appreciate a greater American presence following a season dominated by European racers.
Any potential return would be something of a headline-grabber for World Superbikes, the American having already assured his place in motorcycle racing history with his extraordinary campaign in 2009, the rookie smashing a series of records en route to claiming the title in his first year for Yamaha.
Immediately fast-tracked to MotoGP, though Spies enjoyed a strong maiden season on the satellite Tech 3 Yamaha, he would struggle to firmly establish himself as a front runner on factory Yamaha machinery in 2011 and 2012, with just a single win occurring at the Dutch TT, culminating in his switch to Ducati.
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