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Why Ben Spies is Better Off on a Satellite Team

For those who might think MotoGP rookie Ben Spies would be better off had he been hired directly into the factory Fiat Yamaha team (which is no longer permitted for rookies, unlike when Nicky Hayden went straight to the factory Honda team), consider the following.

First, Valentino Rossi may be the greatest rider in history, but he isn’t much of a teammate. After Jorge Lorenzo proved competitive, Rossi lobbied Yamaha to stop the sharing of data and set-up between his side of the garage and Jorge’s. Rossi can play subtle mind games with his teammate, as well, if it gives him a competitive advantage.

Second, Spies can do without the drama associated with being in the same garage as Rossi, and he can also do without set-up assistance. The combination of Ben Spies and Tom Houseworth, his crew chief, has been devastating. They can dial in a racing motorcycle as well as anyone, and perhaps better. They have been doing it for years, and what they did with the new Yamaha R1 last year in WSB is just the most recent example.

Third, at Monster Tech 3, Spies should be able to control his own destiny. The team will focus on his needs, both in terms of equipment and psychology. Edwards is a great rider, but the team will be pushing to get Spies on top of the podium . . . a place Edwards has never been in MotoGP.

Fourth, there will be less pressure at Tech 3 than at Fiat, particularly for a rookie. Spies is so strong mentally that it might not make a difference, however.

Fifth, although a factory rider might be expected to get superior equipment, Spies will have a bike capable of winning, because Yamaha has a long term commitment to keeping him. Kevin Schwantz thinks Spies will win at least one race his rookie year, and you can bet Yamaha does, as well.

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MD Readers Respond:

  • I enjoy your website as it is very unique as far a motorcycle magazine type websites, but I find some of your daily posts completely subjective and without any base in fact; I guess Lawyers make bad journalists; lets hope you stick with writing about motorcycles and don’t try to go to CNN or something like that.

    The “Why Ben Spies is Better off on a Satellite Team” article is just such an article, in my opinion. I am a Ben Spies fan, but also a Rossi fan. I am betting you are not a Rossi fan based on a constant theme where you seem to bash him in your writing on more than one occasion “First, Valentino Rossi may be the greatest rider in history, but he isn’t much of a teammate”. Why? Rossi comes to Yamaha in 2004 from Honda and showed that he could win on a Honda that other riders could win on, and he could then take the Yamaha machine that no other riders could consistently win on and win on it. That, along with the help of Jeremy Burgess, makes him not only a great rider, but a great development rider (very rare).

    Nobody but the people involved know all the details of why Rossi insisted on the separation with Lorenzo, but it was not this way before with Edwards. Maybe Rossi is just a prima-donna that needs this sort of treatment? Doubtful; it was said of the Rossi vs. Biaggi rivalry that Biaggi loved to win while Rossi just loved to race. This is seen at the Laguna Seca race in 2008 where I saw, the epitome of ‘racing’ in the dual between Rossi and Stoner.

    I will close with a quote from Rossi’s crew chief, Jeremy Burgess:
    “Certainly, my objective from an engineering perspective is to make a bike that all riders can ride. It’s a very well tuned bike which has been developed by Valentino Rossi, and any rider coming in to ride this bike doesn’t have to worry about development. They have the ability and the information that we have put together over many years, combined with the settings we have from the last two especially – and particularly with the Bridgestone tyres – so it’s not as easy to develop the bike as it is to ride the bike. We have a rider in Valentino who develops the bike and we have on the other side of the garage one guy who just has to ride.”   Richard

  • Bench racing. God I love it. With respect to the above opinion piece by Mr. Edge, I agree with everything you said. One thing you didn’t address: The possibility that Yamaha gives the latest, greatest, and most expensive equipment to Rossi and Lorenzo, and not to the satellite teams. Last year’s results as well as Colin Edwards rants to the foreign press would seem to support this.   Robert
  • While I agree for the most part with your article today, I have to ask you: Do you REALLY think Rossi would be that much of a problem for Ben Spies after Ben spent FOUR YEARS with Mat Mladin??   Jaime
  • For those who might think MotoGP rookie Ben Spies would be better off had he been hired directly into the factory Fiat Yamaha team…

    I thought there was a rule in 2009/2010 MotoGP that a new rider could not be brought into a factory team. No rookies will be allowed to go straight to a MotoGP factory team.

    I agree he’s better off for now at Monster Tech 3 but might be worth while to state that it wasn’t an option in the first place. Cheers. George

  • I completely agree with your assessment of why Ben is better off with the satellite team. Well done! This all plays in his favor.   Burt
  • I agree Spies is better off with a Satellite Team, even though he had no choice in the matter (MotoGP Rules).

    First off, it has been and probably always will be tough being second banana on a Rossi team. No matter how good you are or where your future is, Rossi will always have priority in all “Team” decisions.

    Secondly, having Spies on the Tech 3 squad will benefit Colin Edwards also. Having a fellow rider of similar size, riding style, and background and Edward’s elder statesman position providing sage advice, should make development and set up faster and better. Plus with Spies potential future in MotoGP, the Tech 3 squad will also get better equipment. The last thing Yamaha would want to do is hamstring Spies with anything less than top notch equipment & support and drive him to a competing factory.  Fred