Spies: I chose Ducati with my heart
For an American, Ben Spies really loves Italy. He raced in, and won, the 2009 WSBK championship with an Italian team, and resides for most of the year in Como. So what better place could there be to get his career back on track than Ducati?
"Racing for Ducati is the perfect scenario for me - Spies commented at Wroom - We both have a strong desire to be competitive again. I didn't chose them for the bike alone; their corporate culture makes you feel like part of a family. And they made me feel wanted. They also have a fantastic SBK that I'd like to ride sometime in the future."
Before Ben can get down to work, however, he must recuperate fully from the injury suffered at Sepang.
"The surgery was complicated, and the recovery particularly long. The tendon needed to be completely healed before starting rehabilitation. I lost a lot of muscle mass in my back, shoulder and arm. Now I'm getting back into shape, and I have around 90% mobility. However I haven't been on a bike since October, and even if I definitely won't be at my best for the first test in Malaysia, I should be in good enough shape to complete the test program. I'll learn the bike's secrets and the work method step by step with my team, without taking any risks or worrying too much about lap times."
Spies had several other offers for this season, including some tempting options in WSBK, but he is sure about the decision he made.
"I'm coming off a horrible season. I've never experienced anything like it in 20 years of racing. But things like this can happen. For me it's important to have factory support and a competitive team. My telemetry specialist and track engineer have been with me for some time now, and I requested them both in my contract. As a team we are already at a factory level. Having Iannone as a teammate could also be another advantage, since a rookie can offer a completely fresh perspective. The bike won't change overnight, but I'm confident we can improve progressively. Even if I had matching offers from other places, I would have still chosen to come here."
There also appear to be few hard feelings towards Yamaha, with whom he raced for the past four years.
"We had some problems, but I have a lot of respect for them. I still have a lot of friends there, and 95% of them are great people. Both Jarvis and Nakajima were always correct with me. I only had issues with one person from very high up, but that really threw me off. The bike was definitely competitive, and I actually made my decision before the problems with the swingarm, engine and clutch. More often it was a case of creating problems for myself, exaggerating a bit with my riding. I think I crashed at least twice as many times as any other year in my career. Even without the technical issues, I wouldn't have had a great season, maybe finishing eighth overall. It was a horrible year from every point of view. It was still a shame to finish it with an injury at Sepang, though, even if I was almost expecting it at that point, since I had already crashed so many times without getting hurt."
Translation by Sean Sedacca