My Greatest Yamaha Memory – Ben Spies
During his career, Ben Spies enjoyed success everywhere he went. After championing the AMA Superbike and Superstock series, the American left the United States to join the FIM Superbike World Championship in 2009, and duly won Yamaha’s first riders’ title at his first attempt, while he also boasts a MotoGP race victory to his name.
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Spies was already winning national 600cc championships at the age of 14, and the following year in 2000 he joined the AMA 750 Superstock series, impressing enough to earn an AMA Horizon Award for road racing, given to the most outstanding and promising young talent.
His first professional victory came the following year in an AMA 750 Superstock race at Pikes Peak, before taking a maiden title in the 2003 AMA Formula Xtreme championship on 1000cc machinery, having also made his Superbike debut.
In 2006, Spies entered his second season of AMA Superbikes and scored 10 victories to beat his more experienced team-mate to the riders’ title. He claimed a second AMA Superbike championship the following year, also dominating the AMA Superstock series, before making it three top-class titles in a row in 2008.
Showing promise in his three MotoGP appearances in 2008, where he scored a best finish of sixth at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Yamaha signed Spies for the 2009 Superbike World Championship and it was instantly clear that the American was going to challenge for the title in his rookie season.
Riding the updated Yamaha R1 at the opening round in Philip Island, his first visit to the Australian circuit, Spies took pole position and went on to win the second race, following that up with a double victory in only his second WorldSBK weekend in Qatar.