American racing sensation Ben Spies has signed up to the Yamaha factory World Superbike Team to partner 23 year old British rider Tom Sykes for the 2009 season. The 24yr old American rider from Dallas is fresh from a record third championship win in a row, taking the AMA Superbike Championship crown again for 2008. Spies is only the fourth rider in the history of AMA Superbike to win three consecutive titles and 3rd on the all-time AMA Superbike wins list with a total of 28 AMA Superbike wins. This now completes the Yamaha World Superbike team for 2009.
Spies has been racing and winning in the AMA Superbike Championship since 2005, and has an unrivalled 90% podium finish rate for racing, the highest for any AMA rider in the history of the championship. He took second place in his rookie year followed by the three successive championship wins. Prior to this he had a three year stint in the AMA Supersport Championship,. Spies turned pro in 2000, racing in the AMA Superstock Championship for two years before joining AMA Supersport in 2002.
Spies has also ridden in MotoGP in 2008, starting in place of injured Loris Capirossi at the British GP, finishing 14th place scoring his first MotoGP points. He had a further 2 wildcard outings, achieving 8th at Laguna Seca and an even more impressive 6th at Indianapolis.
'I'm very excited about joining Yamaha in World Superbike," Spies said. "This is a positive step for the direction of my career. I'll have a great opportunity to race on many of the top road racing circuits in the world. Riding with a company as passionate about racing as Yamaha is going to put me in a good position to contest for a world championship right from the start.'
'Superbike racing originated in America, but it's been a while since we've had an American world champion. There's a great tradition of American riders in World Superbike and I hope to put my name alongside great champions like Fred Merkel, Doug Polen, Scott Russell, John Kocinski and Colin Edwards.'
'After considering my offers it became obvious to me that Yamaha would be a great home. Yamaha was excited about the possibility of me joining them and they just made me feel like I was coming into a great family. You look at how Yamaha treats its riders and how, even after their careers are over, they're always part of the Yamaha family. That was really important to me. I'm looking forward to the challenge at hand and to work with Yamaha to produce a winning team and ultimately a World Superbike Championship.'
Massimo Meregalli (Yamaha's factory Superbike Team Manager) - 'We're really enthusiastic to have signed Ben Spies for the 2009 team. He's proved to be a very skilful and successful rider in AMA Superbike, he has been one of the riders we have followed closely this year. We are sure he will be a great combination with Tom Sykes, the team are looking forward to starting with them both next year. There will be a lot to learn with new circuits and new bikes but we also have new motivation as a fresh team and will give 200% to help the riders win in 2009.'
"We're very excited to have Ben join the team" said Yamaha Motor Europe Racing Division Manager Laurens Klein Koerkamp. 'He's proved to be a top rider with his AMA titles and recent rides in MotoGP, we believe he's got a long future ahead of him at the highest levels in motorcycle racing.'