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GP Week : Issue 58
>>Moto GPnews SPieS: MotoGP’s Mystery Man WITH Jorge Lorenzo set to stay put at Yamaha, triple US champion Ben Spies is the latest MotoGP mystery man, as the mid-season game of contract-goround intensifies. Currently employed by Yamaha after the Suzuki team let him slip through its fingers, Spies has made a brilliant World Superbike debut, with 11 wins in 20 attempts, and currently lies a close second overall to veteran campaigner Noriyuki Haga. Yamaha are prepared to keep him in the production-based class for one more year if he fails to win first time, but Spies may not be prepared to wait that long. He has already been approached by Suzuki once more for a factory ride. Now a report by Britain’s Motor Cycle News says that Ducati is contemplating a swoop on the latest hot property from the US, putting yet more pressure on Yamaha to find a way to keep him on strength. There could be a berth for him on the satellite Tech 3 team (as a rookie he may not join the factory squad), but keeping him waiting for a full factory ride for as long as Valentino Rossi and Lorenzo occupy the prime seats could prove not only expensive, but too trying for his patience. Suzuki’s poor level of performance means the offer is not particularly attractive on the face of it, although it is a full factory squad (with no satellite team Suzuki is exempted from the “no rookies” rule). But Ducati is a different matter. The same source reports that the Italian team is likely to retain Hayden alongside Stoner for 2010; but Spies could be trained up for one year in the Pramac team, pending a possible 2011 move to the top level. Spies’s American passport is almost as important as his riding talent. It is important to Yamaha US to have an American rider on the machines. Current support goes to veteran Colin Edwards, but a look to the future could swing it towards Spies, with some possible financial help. Ducati has a similar imperative: the factory launched a special Hayden replica model in the US this year, in a bid to boost sales in a crucial market for the exclusively sports-bike range. 1