Former WSBK and AMA Superbike champion Ben Spies will race a an off-road Enduro series in 2018 but won’t be racing MotoAmerica, WSBK or MotoGP.
Spies’ comeback was linked to any number of MotoAmerica teams including one through three-time AMA Superbike champion Doug Chandler and Ducati.
There are any number of roadblocks for Spies’ return to racing.
Spies said publicly at a European bike show that he was considering a comeback but that if he did his salary would need to match what he last made while racing.
Spies was a well-paid MotoGP rider when he retired due to injury. The reality is that MotoAmerica rider salaries are nowhere near where they were the last time Spies raced a Superbike. When he last raced in America a person who would know said then that the combined salary of Suzuki riders Ben Spies and Mat Mladin was more than the entire WSBK grid made that same season. This was in the era when Australian media reported that “unknown” Mat Mladin made more money than Casey Stoner, who actually won the MotoGP title in the same period. Those days, sadly are over.
Next roadblock is his shoulder. Spies claims that the injured shoulder which forced him to retire from MotoGP racing is up to the task of riding and racing. Could Spies win races in MotoAmerica today? Certainly.
Say that Spies’ shoulder, which was at one time classified as a career ending injury, is ready to go. But how will it be in five crashes time, even with an airbag-equipped set of leathers?
When you grow up racing motorcycles for fun and profit there can be a tricky acclimation period when you have to do a real life, especially when the decision to stop racing was made for you, not by you. Spies raced, or rode, a hot rod CBR954 when he was 13-14 years old. From there he raced a long series of even faster and adrenaline-sapping bikes, and then he suddenly was forced to stop due to injury. It has to be a tough transition to make.
Spies has nothing to be ashamed about in his racing career. He beat the unbeatable Mat Mladin for three titles. From there he went to WSBK and gave the entire championship a wake up call by absolutely trouncing household names in one season. He then went to MotoGP, scored rookie of the year honors and won a Grand Prix.