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How Would Ben Spies Do In MotoGP?: MD Readers Respond

Last month we wrote an article regarding Ben Spies’ eventual move to MotoGP. How will he do? Here is what a few of our readers had to say.

  • being wsbk champ does not guarantee motogp success. witness Edwards, Toseland and others I am sure. tony
  • As one who always attends the USGP at Laguna Seca, and is a keen follower of both MotoGP & WSB racing it is easy to be tempted by the prospect of Ben Spies racing in the Big Show. But Spies would do well to stay in WSB a while longer. First order of business would be to win the WSB title – more than once to avoid any innuendo of it being a fluke because of injuries to another leading rider (Haga). Cement his place in racing history.

    WSB is doing relatively well in a commercial sense even with a weak economy around the globe. MotoGP wishes in its deepest dreams to say the same. It would be a shame to jump ship whilst Spies has a good thing going where he’s at. We’ve seen other Americans “jump ship” only to do less well. Whether it be down to less competative machinery, bad timing, internal team politics, or some other factors. We’ve all witnessed Edwards & Hayden get jerked around and betrayed by corporate/nationalistic agendas. It would be a shame if Spies suffered the same fate. It might be better to wait and allow world economies to rebound somewhat.

    Talent (Ben Spies) and jingoist pride (us) are not enough to act in temerity. Certain riders quite simply gel with certain machines – Ben certainly gels with the new R1. Doohan and the NSR500, Stoner with the Ducati GP bike, Bayliss with the Ducati 998/999/1098, or Mladin and the Gixxer come to mind. This isn’t to say Spies would not do well on an M1, but it’s not to say he’d do equally well in a series that’s having its own pains and its own murky political waters. We all wish Ben Spies well. I also wish him patience. Mark

  • Ben is clearly a world class rider, and has proven this year that he can learn new tracks as quickly as anybody. He’s also a very calculated and analytical rider, and I think that this would help him adapt his style to suit a GP machine. That said, I just can’t see him hanging with the leaders every weekend. He’ll get on the podium more than once in his first year, and may even win one. He’ll have an exceptional showing, but he’ll never win a MotoGP championship. Joel
  • Spies is one of those rare riders who has a great balance of attributes that will make him a champion at any level. First is his mental toughness and calm demeanor. We have seen him take on and beat Matt Mladin who easily intimated the rest of the AMA boys. He can have a bad race and then turn it around in a couple of hours and race brilliantly on the same day. His a thinking man’s rider and keeps his emotions in check. Second, his riding style is very smooth like Mladin, which means that his transition to the high corner speed 800s of MotoGP might be easier for him that it was for Nicky Hayden, Nicky’s style was more point and shoot better suited for the liter bike monsters. Lastly he may be a little big compared to the prototype MotoGP riders Stoner, Pedrosa, etc. But Rossi and Edwards are bigger guys and I think Kevin Schwantz said that at the MotoGP level riding is more mental. Spies size and strength in my opinion are strengths that will pay dividends over the much longer grueling MotoGP season. Spies is the next American MotoGP champ. K. Paul
  • If this were still the era of the two stroke, 500 cc bikes, with their tuned-beyond-reasonable limit of rideability, I would be doubtful that Ben could adapt so soon. But a comment runs throughout magazine testers who get to enjoy a modern four stroke MotoGP bike: you could enjoy this on public highways. How much more difficult is a MotoGP bike to ride well than a superbike? Ben has also shown an amazingly flexible race mind in succeeding at so many tracks new to him.

    If Lorenzo indeed leaves Yamaha, Ben could fill that seat and be in the top five from race one onward, I believe. Do you think Rossi has a say in this? This season, his teammate has been his closest competition. Does he enjoy that? Tom

  • The current rules would work heavily (pun intended) against Spies in
    MotoGP. Spies should stay in WSB, the racing is better and you don’t
    need to be either a mutant or Rossi to win. I’d be willing to bet he
    will command MotoGP sized pay checks after he is WSB champion.

    I hope Hayden wises up and joins Spies in WSB. Once Rossi retires
    I’ll stop paying much attention to the MotoGP, unless the FIA gets
    smart and bans the electronics and goes back to the 990s. Goose

  • After a decade of lackluster road racing results at the pinnacle of the sport, it is refreshing and encouraging to see Yamaha emerge in what appears to be a hat trick of having the best bike/rider combos and ability to challenge for supremacy in AMA/DMG SBK, World SBK and MotoGP. Indeed the M1 and R1 crossplane bike seem to have made a huge difference. Equally obvious is the quality of the riders of those bikes; the results speak for themselves.

    Even with a perceived equipment advantage, the achievements of Ben Spies this season are nothing less than astounding. He has had his share of misfortune, costing him valuable points. Haga’s injuries has erased the disadvantage and possibly deprived the world of an epic title chase. I think we all believe that Ben is going to take this championship – I certainly think so.

    How will he do in 2010 or 2011 on a MotoGP bike? Suzuki has probably lost their shot at hiring him, unless Ben gets impatient, awaiting the retirement of Rossi or Lorenzo. There could easily be a seat for him on a Tech3 M1 and I’m certain the factory squad is warm to the idea of putting Mr. Spies on a frontline works racer at the earliest opportunity for a vacancy.

    Ben Spies will immediately gravitate to the front; a top three season finish seems logical, if not exactly assured.

    Ben has richly deserved the privileged position of being the, perhaps, most discussed rider in the world during this silly season. He’s going to do well. Bo

  • Ben’s professionalism would transfer well to MotoGP I believe. He also seems to be able to get his machine set up which is absolutely crucial at the highest level of racing. Ben’s larger physical stature may be a factor, I don’t know. I’ve read a lot lately of how small many of the new GP riders are but note that Rossi is tall and, well, he does ok. All in all, I think Ben would be top 5, maybe even at the top of the top 5. We’ll only know for sure if it happens. Yamaha currently builds winning bikes in that class so if they invite Ben, it is a real ooportunity. Heck Ben on his 1000cc superbike might be as fast as the 800cc GP bikes. I’d love to see Ben and Vale race together, either in WSBK or MotoGP. Mack
  • Ben might do great in a seat next to his brethren, the Texas Tornado. But I’d rather see him totally dominate and destroy the field in WSBK. Fighting it out on factory production-based bike against former champions like Biaggi, Toseland (most likely). It will make the best TV and help diminishing sales. Do what’s best for the sport young man. Your career will thank you. Andy
  • Ben Spies would do great in MotoGP. I think he would run with the top 6 of the pack for sure. I would LOVE to see Ben stay in WSBK because of how he has ignited the United States with his success, but the thought of him jumping to MotoGP and dicing it up with Rossi? Hell yeah!

    I’ll see him this coming Monday the 24th at Miller Motorsports Park when he teaches for the Yamaha Champions Riding School and ask him myself :)

    Go Ben GO! Chris

  • Spies is phenomenal in WSB, yes. But Jorge Lorenzo is the next Rossi in
    MotoGP racing. It’s evident in the respect Rossi now shows Jorge. Once
    Lorenzo learns his limits and stays within them, nobody will catch him. He’s
    got the courage, the ability and the bike. Experience is all that’s left.
    Rossi needs to step aside this winter and let the next great GP racer
    flourish. Frank

  • It depends on which factory team he signs with and the quality of their bike. Yamaha will likely keep Rossi and Lorenzo in 2010, so Spies might not wait another year for Yamaha to come around. Honda might be looking to sign Spies to challenge the Yamaha factory lineup in 2010.

    Ducati might look to sign Spies, but only Stoner has been able to wrestle the Ducati to top finishes. Spies might opt for Honda over Ducati, especially if Honda promises to commit significant resources to the fine tuning of their MotoGP bike over the winter. Honda has the deep pockets to afford Spies. The question is who they would drop from their factory lineup. Pedrosa is leading the team this year, but he has more than his fair share of accidents and injuries.

    Let’s assume that Spies can land a ride from a factory Honda or a satellite Yamaha team. In 2010, Rossi will invariably be up near the front by year end. Lorenzo will be a close second, and Spies will battle Lorenzo for second place. The Ducati just doesn’t keep up with the Yamaha anymore, so Spies would have a great shot at beating Stoner next year. Spies would beat Pedrosa on ability and consistency.

    In 2010, I would make it 50/50 that Spies will take second from Lorenzo in his first year in MotoGP. Will he challenge Rossi in year one or year two? Yes. Look at how he took it to Mladin and how he is taking WSBK by storm..

    So, will he beat Rossi in 2010 or 2011? I would say that one of those two years, he has a good shot at winning a title. Rossi is tough, and he makes few mistakes. However, Spies has proven his ability as well as his meddle.. Let’s hope we get to see some epic duals in years to come before Rossi retires. Phil

  • I think he would be middle of the pack his first two years with maybe a couple podiums when one of the big 4 crashes or has a mechanical. Spies has said that corner speed is difficult to learn when you don’t mature on the 250’s (example: See Toseland) If anyone can do it, he will be able to do it. He’ll need at least two years to get used to the corner speed. Eric
  • I think if he gets on the M1 he will do very well, although experience has shown that there is a large gulf between Super Bikes and Moto GP. James Toseland is a case in point. WSB Champ on the best bike in the paddock and still struggling. Sean
  • Spies has undoubtedly done a phenomenal job in WSB. However time and time again new players step up to Motogp and time and time again they are ceremoniously destroyed by one Valentino Rossi. Yes, there have been a few that have had the better of this genius on occasions, fleeting moments when the Doctor was not up to speed but they are few and far between and it is almost a forgone conclusion that if Rossi stays in long enough to run up against Spies he will suffered the same fate as all before him. They will just have to wait until Rossi retires. Reminds me of one Troy Bayliss. Tony
  • I’m a big fan of Ben, and I’m a big fan of Nickey. I’d hope Ben can do as well as Nickey did in his first few years in MotoGP, then continue to get better over time. Like many, I’ve been disappointed in Nickey’s performance since he won the championship in ’06. Chris
  • Ben will do just fine in MotoGP as long as he stays on his Yamaha!. Seriously, he is a student of racing. He takes it even further than his talent. Amazing. And his mentor knows a couple of things about MotoGP racing. I see some incredible races with him there. No one will get inside his head and he won’t throw his bike away. Boy do the fans have something to look forward to! Barry
  • He will ROCK. This is a guy who has both talent and a tremulous work
    ethic. He was schooled by
    the best rider to not go to MotoGP in Mat Mladin. His only draw back
    will be his size but I suspect
    he will overcome this as well. Assuming Lorenzo goes to Ducati and
    Spies gets his factory ride, Spies
    will be a contender right away. Dave

  • Ben himself has admitted that he is a bigger guy and would race at 155 pounds in MotoGP, which is on the high end. He said Dani Pedrosa’s light weight is keeping him front deep braking in the corners where a bigger guy like Ben can break deeper. Advantage Ben. Ben is amazingly quick through the corners and out of them. That puts him on an equal playing field in that category. Ben’s greatest asset is his brilliant mind. He has proven that by learning new WSBK tracks on a new bike with a new team. He needs House with him though to do this. Advantage Ben. So I could see him doing real well. The question in MotoGP really comes down to getting on the best bike with the best team. If he gets the right ride, he’s a top 5 competitor in his rookie season. He’ll smoke Edwards, Hayden, Toseland et al. Can he beat Rossi? That remains to be seen. Burt
  • He’s too big. Dina
  • believe some riders have a natural talent. Ricky Carmichael, Jeremy McGrath, and Travis Pastrana are all great examples of this. Spies is no different, as he has shown repeatedly. He has an ability to adapt to any bike and any race situation like many of the great race veterans of the past. I think he is going to be competitive from the first race in MotoGP. That being said, he has some hurdles to cross but I’m confident he will cross them with grace and style (and speed!). Kevin
  • When the time comes that Ben (and his crew!) make the decision to jump
    to MotoGP, he should be immediately competitive.
    Perhaps not an immediate race winner but he will be a common figure
    within the lead pack. Spies and Houseworth have shown
    an incredible ability to setup and build a competitive machine on new
    tires on new tracks, over and over again!

    Hopefully, Rossi will stick around long enough for Ben to get a chance
    to measure his skills against those of the greatest ever!
    It would certainly be entertaining! Ronnie

  • It is an inevitability that Spies will wind up in MotoGP! How do I think he will fair once he gets there? Without a factory ride (rookie rule) his chances of actually winning a race would be slim, but he most definitely has the talent, work ethic and race craft to be there! If nothing else he has done this year has impressed, it must surely be his limitless adaptability to a whole new set of working parameters. He walked into WSBK with virtually everything under and around him being new and foreign. The team, bike, tires, tracks, paddock, rules, food and foreign lands were all new to him this year. To have dominated the way that he has under those circumstances is truly remarkable and I can assure you the MotoGP community has taken notice!

    The few things working against Spies are his size and his paycheck. He was rumored to have taken a pay cut to go to WSBK this season. A fact that will surely be remedied next season! Even last year he was making more than lots of guys in MotoGP are making even now. That meant that the satellite teams could not afford to hire him at anywhere near the salary he was making at that time. That will not have changed this time around. Meaning it will have to be a very well funded satellite squad. And few of those exist. His size has been discussed at length in the press as a possible Achilles heel as well. Being able to get behind the bubble of a 200+mph motorcycle is nothing new to him but when the guys he is racing against are around 10-20 kilos lighter than he is the aerodynamic and acceleration advantages become a large factor that cannot simply be ridden around.

    I am trying to be realistic about his chances in MotoGP, but at the end of the day I think this kid is something really special and could be the next Kevin Schwantz or Wayne Rainey! A few things just need to fall into place for that to happen. Matt

  • Ben Spies would be right behind Valentino Rossi just like many other very talented riders, and I am not a big Rossi fan, just have to recognize his talent. Now if we could get Rossi or even Spies on a Ducati, that would make for an awesome Moto GP season. David