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Ben Spies had some bad Ju-Ju this year.
In a disastrous second season with the factory Yamaha team, Spies was beset by uncanny bad luck and poor choices, from crashes and technical problems to food poisoning in Mugello, Italy.
After Spies utterly dominated World Superbike in 2009, and then after his successful initial season in MotoGP with the Yamaha Tech 3 satellite team a year later, many thought he was the next great rising star and would soon challenge the four "aliens"—Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi—for MotoGP supremacy.
Sadly, I think, for all involved—at least all of us wishing to see a more competitive and entertaining spectacle in MotoGP—that was not to be.
Some guys just can't ride a prototype bike with the same kind of expertise as a production machine. I know Spies' fellow American Colin Edwards has preached for years that it is absolutely imperative that young riders get into prototype racing as quickly as they can because of how different, and more difficult, it is.
Whether Spies has the ability to master a prototype or not I can't say. He has had some success in MotoGP, but after the 2012 season an equally strong argument could be made to support both points of view.
Spies heads to Pramac Ducati—a satellite team—for 2013. At this point, the last thing a struggling rider wants to do is get on a Ducati. The Desmosedici is much more likely to strip away any shred of confidence he has left than to help him find his groove again.
If Valentino Rossi couldn't fix the Desmo it's not likely that Spies will. But, if he is successful, no one will remember his 2012 season.