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A difficult start for Ben Spies

A difficult start for Ben Spies

Ben Spies’ start to the season is proving a lot tougher than some had anticipated, culminating in some disappointing results so far. But the people around him believe his fortunes are about to change at Catalunya.

Spies, a Grand Prix winner in 2011, has so far only managed an eighth place in Portugal, which combined with eleventh in Qatar and Jerez, as well as sixteenth in France, has raised some alarm bells over the rider’s situation in the Factory Yamaha Racing team.

His team director, Italian Massimo Meregalli, told Italy’s Mediaset: "The early part of the season has been more difficult than expected. It all started in the Qatar warm-up with some problems that we thought were due to a worn tyre. Here he began to have trust issues with the front, which reoccurred in Jerez, while in Estoril, as we compared set-ups with Jorge, we saw that we were better than Lorenzo. In the race Ben made a series of mistakes for which he paid the price. Le Mans was a case of real bad luck, because his tyres were spinning up at the start, after which he had water come into his helmet and he had to pit. Certainly, the year could not have started any worse."

With regards to how Spies views his current situation, Meregalli says: “Sure he knows it’s going wrong, but Ben is a person that speaks very little. At least we know what the problems are, but for sure it is not nice for him to see the rest of Yamaha doing so well and not him. We have spoken to him and have conveyed our absolute confidence.”

Meregalli thinks this weekend may be the turning point for Spies’ season: "We will not make excuses, but I must say Estoril and Le Mans are two circuits Ben particularly dislikes, and Qatar had gone wrong well before the race. Last year we got on the podium in Catalunya, his first podium with the official team. I am convinced that this can change the course of his season."

Jorge Lorenzo, Spies’ teammate at Yamaha Factory Racing, believes that "the situation is a bit sad, because I think Ben can do much better than he has done so far, and the results are, given real his talent, not what he can achieve. I hope he recovers soon, as I need a partner to fight with the Hondas and I think Ben can help a little in the championship."

Another person who knows Ben Spies is Hervé Poncharal, team manager of Monster Yamaha Tech 3, the team in which the Texan made his debut in MotoGP. Poncharal says: "We all know that the level of Ben Spies is exceptional, and he is one of the few riders able to claim the title in the short term. The Yamaha M1 2012 offers better performance, which we are seeing with Jorge, Cal and Dovi. It is now clear that something is happening, and I think it is more in his head than anywhere else. Is it a lack of confidence? He has not found himself. He’s not far away, but it is easy to enter a virtuous circle, where everything is going well, and then fall back into doubt. I hope he returns to a positive chapter and rediscovers his level. It hurts to see someone like Ben in that situation, especially given his potential. I am one of those privileged enough to have had the opportunity to be part of Ben’s riding career for a season and, frankly, he astonished us. We enjoyed it, and we all hope he recovers as soon as possible to his level. Ben and the M1 have the potential to fight for the podium and I just hope they reconnect here in Catalunya."

MotoGP, 2012, GRAN PREMI APEROL DE CATALUNYA, Ben Spies, Yamaha Factory Racing

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