Photography by Gold & Goose
Former AMA Superbike and World Superbike Champion Ben Spies has announced his retirement from the sport, the Texan making the announcement in a joint statement with Ducati.
“I had such high hopes for racing for Ducati and Ducati has been incredibly supportive of me during this challenging year, so I am tremendously disappointed that I have not been able to fulfill my personal goals and team goals with Ducati,” Spies said in the release. “I want to thank everyone from racing organizations, factories, teams and all my fans for helping me and supporting me throughout my career. I never dreamed that I would reach the level of success that I have over the past 20 years of racing, but the time has come to stop and I do so with great sadness.”
Spies signed a two-year contract with Ducati at the end of last season to race in MotoGP in 2013 and 2014. The two parties reached an agreement to resolve that contract and the 29-year-old has elected to retire due to the shoulder injuries – the first from the 2012 Malaysian Grand Prix and the second from the Red Bull Indy Grand Prix this season.
“The resulting operations on both shoulders have left Spies feeling that his physical ability to ride next year remains in question and a decision was jointly made by Ducati and Ben to release Ben from any requirement to race in 2014,” the statement said.
“We had high expectations when Ben joined Ducati in MotoGP this year and we really hoped that he would fully recover from his Indianapolis crash injuries and continue to race for us in the future,” said Paolo Ciabatti, Ducati’s MotoGP project director. “However, we understand the reasons for his decision and respect them. It is really a shame for our sport that Ben will not be racing anymore because in our opinion he is one of the most talented riders in the world. We will miss him and wish him all the best for his future life.”
Spies mother, Mary, who is also his manager, added: “Wherever Ben has raced over the years – from AMA Superbike to World Superbike to MotoGP – he has always felt the warmth and appreciation of the organizers, circuits, teams and fans. We are so grateful to them for their support.”
Spies won 45 races in various classes of AMA racing with his first victory coming in the 750cc Superstock class at Pikes Peak Raceway in Colorado in 2001. His list of victories in AMA racing included 28 wins in the premiere Superbike class and three AMA Superbike Championships (2006, 2007 and 2008).
In 2009, Spies headed to the World Superbike Series with Yamaha and won the title in his rookie season with 14 victories and 11 pole positions – on circuits he’d never seen before.
In 2010, Spies joined Yamaha’s satellite Tech 3 team in MotoGP, racing in the final Grand Prix of the 2009 season for the team as a wild card and finishing seventh.
In 2010, Spies finished sixth in the MotoGP World Championship, earning rookie of the year honors. The highlight of that season was a second-place finish in the Indianapolis Grand Prix, which came after his first-career MotoGP podium at Silverstone in England.
Spies was moved to the Yamaha factory team in 2011, earning a podium finish in Catalunya and then scoring his first MotoGP victory at Assen in Holland. He ended the season with a mixed bag of results that featured the highs of winning and the lows of crashing.
In 2012, Spies returned to the factory Yamaha team and had a miserable season with injuries and mechanical problems pushing him all the way down to 10th in the series final standings.
This year was Spies’ first and only season with Ducati and it ultimately ended with the two shoulder injuries, the final one coming during practice for the Indy Grand Prix.