Spies Eager To Continue Rapid MotoGP Rise With Yamaha In 2011
Yamaha Factory Racing unveiled its new motorcycle and new rider - American Ben Spies - for the 2011 season as the team and the rest of the MotoGP paddock prepare for a crucial preseason test Feb. 22-24.
Spies, from Longview, Texas, was promoted to the factory team after a superb rookie season in 2010. He earned the pole and a second-place finish at the Red Bull Indianapolis GP in August at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the satellite Yamaha Monster Tech 3 team. Spies finished sixth in the standings – the top result by an American and a non-factory rider in 2010 – and earned the series’ Rookie of the Year honors.
He will join reigning MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo on the Yamaha factory team. The season opener is Sunday, March 20 at Qatar, and the 2011 schedule includes the fourth annual Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 26-28 at IMS.
“We worked really hard last year to earn the seat with the Yamaha factory team, so it’s a great feeling to be here alongside Jorge,” Spies said. “It’s obviously a special year for Yamaha with the 50th anniversary of GP racing celebrations, so I’m really stoked to be part of it.
“The bike’s feeling really good. We’ve got a few days more of testing now to really shake it down and fine-tune the setup, and we’ll be ready to go. I’m loving the corporate blue color scheme; I’m a big fan of the design.”
The second of three preseason tests will take place this week at the Sepang International Circuit near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Every MotoGP rider is expected to participate, including Spies and fellow Americans Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) and Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3).
Taking the final step to the defending World Championship factory team could create plenty of pressure for Spies. But he has responded with results at every recent step of his career, winning three consecutive AMA Superbike championships from 2006-08, the World Superbike title as a rookie in 2009 and the MotoGP Rookie of the Year honors in 2010.
“A lot of people might look at it and think it’s a lot of pressure, but for me now the pressure is off,” Spies said. “Last year I needed to prove something, which I did. Now I’m on the factory team I feel I worked hard last year to get there and deserve it.
“Now I need to keep giving 100 percent. I’ve got a great crew behind me and am riding for a great manufacturer. We should have a great bike this year, and I’ve got a World Champion teammate, so I’ve got the best of the best. This is the last step, MotoGP, on a factory bike. The only thing left to do in a rider’s career is win a MotoGP race and win a MotoGP championship, and that’s not impossible.”
2009 Red Bull Indianapolis GP winner Lorenzo knows one of the toughest challenges for his title may come from the other side of the Yamaha garage.
“I think Ben is going to fight for the championship,” Lorenzo said. “He is very fast and has already shown he can fight to the front of the pack, and was the best satellite rider last year.”
See VIDEO of the 2011 Yamaha Factory Racing Livery
2011 tickets: 2011 Red Bull Indianapolis GP tickets are on sale now. To buy tickets, visit www.imstix.com, call the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area or visit the ticket office at the IMS Administration Building at the corner of Georgetown Road and 16th Street.
Ticket office and phone hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday-Friday. The 2011 Red Bull Indianapolis GP is scheduled for Aug. 26-28 at IMS. Race Day general admission tickets cost $40, with Friday general admission $10 and Saturday general admission $20.
A three-day general admission ticket is $60. A Friday-Saturday general admission ticket is $25. Children ages 12 and under will be admitted free any of the three days of the event when accompanied by an adult with a general admission ticket. Race Day reserved seat prices will start at $70.