Ducati has provided an update on the possibility of Ben Spies’ return to racing, stating it would happily provide the Texan with World Superbike level equipment for a campaign in the MotoAmerica series, but only on the grounds that significant backing can be acquired.

Paolo Ciabatti, Ducati’s sporting director, revealed to Crash.net that Ducati has no budget to go racing in America. Nor does its subsidiary in the United States, meaning it would need a similar partnership to BSB, where it provides factory-backed machinery to Paul Bird’s Be Wiser outfit.

In Ciabatti’s words, “it’s still more of an idea than a project” at present, but Ducati would be more than willing to supply machinery should the costs be covered, and a deadline met.

A rider of Spies’ calibre would also be a huge boost for the nascent MotoAmerica series, started in 2015 with ex-500cc world champion Wayne Rainey as acting president, and one that just witnessed ex-GP star Toni Elias seal the 2017 Superbike championship.

Spies, a former five-time AMA and one-time World Superbike champion, is keen to return to racing in some kind after retiring due to a shoulder injury at the close of 2013. The Texan posted an enigmatic photo of racing gloves and helmet on Instagram in early October alongside the message ‘Let’s see if I can still do this…’

“I heard that some people are trying to put together a package for Moto America,” said Ciabatti. “But this is all I know at the moment. We told our subsidiary that obviously if we know it in time we are able to provide a package with World Superbike material, with small modifications needed for MotoAmerica. And that’s it for the moment. I think it’s still more of an idea than a project.”

So what is needed for this to become a reality? “Money,” came Ciabatti’s response. “As I said, I heard that we were approached to know whether material would be available. And we said, ‘Yes, we need to know within a certain deadline. Come back to us if this project materialises.’

“Personally, it would be great because Ben is a friend. He is still a great rider but I didn’t speak to Ben. I just heard from our subsidiary that some people approached them and that they had this plan. Actually they didn’t mention Spies. I was reading on social media as well.

“So I know Ben would like to somehow get back to some sort of racing, probably in the States. Let’s see for the moment. For us, it’s more of a ‘wait-and-see.’ As Ducati we don’t have any budget to go racing in the States. Nor does our subsidiary.

“So it has to be a serious private effort privately funded. Obviously we would be happy to provide material. We are happy to provide material without making any margin but it needs to be paid. We cannot provide it for free.”

A racing presence in America would no doubt be a good thing for Ducati too, the Bologna factory having history in the old AMA Superbike championship, a series it won on two occasions,

“Well, obviously it [a racing presence in America] is always good. Ducati, we were in the AMA for many years. From one side we think that the job of the company, centrally, is to try and do as good as possible here [MotoGP] and in World Superbikes.

“We are not as big as the Japanese. We don’t sell as many bikes as the Japanese to be able to fund programmes on national championships. We are very lucky to have a partner like Paul Bird in the UK because between him and Ducati UK we were able to make something very successful. But we would need a similar situation in the States to be able to go ahead.”



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