The single-season 2009 WorldSBK championship phenomenon that is Ben Spies was back in the paddock at Misano – not unusual as he has family connections in the area, and spends time here each year.
Despite being forced out of top-line racing by injury, Spies dallied with the idea of coming back a couple of years ago. More importantly he is doing so again now, although he is at the very early stages of the thought process.
“There is really no plan,” Spies told bikesportnews.com, first recounting how he nearly came back recently. “A couple of years ago there were some mutterings about me coming back in MotoAmerica. That was serious but I did not like to talk about it much because I do not like to build everybody up. And the sponsor fell through.
“I actually did contact Yoshimura Suzuki and I said let me test for Superbike, and see how I feel and we can go from there. They said yes and then they said no, for whatever reason. And then Roger retired and I thought that was a pretty dumb decision on their part. But it is what it is.”
That close call caused a small spark in Spies’ ideas about coming back, even after so many previous racing achievements.
Ever since then I have had motivation, but I have been riding dirt bikes for fun, and again my shoulder is not perfect,” admitted Spies. “It is in a much better way where I can manage situations and things like that. The goal for me is that I would like to get together with some sort of a manufacturer, and I have two in mind, and get a streetbike from them and do some track days where it is my bike and it is a good bike, and then I can get my speed back on the road and if something pops up, we do it.”
At 34 Spies is not that old for WorldSBK rider, although it is a long way from what Spies is talking about to doing WorldSBK again. Given his well-known aversion to flying, if he is fit and fast enough he could race in his native USA again, in some form. And he is thinking about it again for sure.
“Honestly, racing in America, I would not turn away completely,” he said at Misano. “But from what I have heard the factories are pulling out at the end of this year, and I don’t know the longevity of that series. I do not think that is a very good possibility but that be the most extreme – me actually racing for a championship in America.
“I do not see that happening at all. But, you never say never. If I get back on a bike and feel good, and start getting my speed back, then doing the 24 Le Mans, Bol d’Or and Suzuka Eight-Hours – that’s totally possible. We will just see. I think I can give a lot to racing and I see a lot of stuff.
“I just sat down with Chaz (Davies) two nights ago and talking about he bike, what I see with him and what’s going on. I still think I have a lot knowledge that is still current from what I have done. There is not a lot out there that are my age that have done it and are still young.
I think I have a lot to give but at the same time I live in Texas and I hate flying so for me to do consistent work in Europe, people do not want to pay me to do it because I am not going to do it for cheap. That is the only reason, because I hate flying. And everybody always knew that.
“So if I start spending more time over here maybe there are more possibilities. But the first idea is to get back on a bike again and get back up to speed and then just see what happens.”
Even though Spies admits to speaking to some people already, it is still just at the discussion stage - and he has to prove to himself that injury and years away from competition will not halt any return before it really starts.
“It is not something that I am speaking and trying to put together now, I am just saying that once I get back on a road race bike and my speed gets back to where I know it can be, that is a very good possibility,” he stated.
“If that is something whereby I got a deal and we are doing something with Ducati, I am going to tell them, ‘Hey, let’s me and Bayliss go and do Suzuka for fun!’ That would be some cool stuff to do. That is possible. But at the same time, there could be a serious part to it but I want to have fun and get back going into it and, again, there are two manufacturers that I think it is very possible with.
“One has already shown interest for sure, but it is basically not until next year and we will just see. If anything I feel I owe something back to Ducati. I was wanting to ride for them and a lot of people don’t realise (although) I actually had signed to race GP in 2013, 90 per cent of the paddock has no clue that I was going to be in WorldSBK in 2014 with Chaz.
“That was the contract. If I could do something with Ducati I would love it. They have got plenty of riders and all their stuff going on, so they do not really need me and I understand that. But we will see.”