WorldSBK champ Ben Spies rants over Garrett Gerloff… but in a constructive way

2009 WorldSBK Champion Ben Spies is frustrated Garrett Gerloff felt he had to adopt a more cautious approach following Assen tangle with Toprak Razgatlioglu

Garrett Gerloff - GRT Yamaha


Ben Spies has aired his frustrations over WorldSBK rider Garrett Gerloff in the wake of the American’s slump in form during the second half of the 2021 season, even if he maintains he is fully supportive of his countryman.

In an interview with WorldSBK.com, 2009 WorldSBK Champion Spies - the only Yamaha rider to win the title until Toprak Razgatlioglu emulated his feat this season - gave a blunt assessment of Gerloff’s year on the GRT Yamaha, saying he is ‘frustrated’ and ‘annoyed’.

One of the standout performers in 2020 for what was his rookie WorldSBK season, Gerloff hit the ground running during the initial rounds of 2021 with four top five results from the opening three rounds.

Nevertheless, during this period he was involved in clashes with Jonathan Rea at Aragon and Michael Ruben Rinaldi at Estoril that drew criticism. However, it was his collision with Yamaha stablemate and title contender Toprak Razgatlioglu at the start of Race 2 at Assen that brought him unwanted attention.

Admitting to suffering difficulties mentally in order to cope with the onslaught of criticism from around the world, Gerloff accepts he began to ride more cautiously, with his results failing to sparkle for the remainder of the year.

It is for this reason Spies says he is frustrated, saying Gerloff isn’t riding to his full potential, even if he maintains his views are expressed while entirely supporting him.

“I feel frustration, and I say that 100% on Garrett’s side,” he said. “I feel bad because yes, he made some mistakes at the beginning of the year and caused a little bit of commotion and some people were upset, which was understandable. 

“I think he got a bit nervous and had to go a couple of weekends without making mistakes, as well as other things happening that didn’t need to happen that made him ride even more cautiously and that annoys me too. 

“However, it’s the way it is and he’s getting through it; we’ve seen that his pace has been great after the first few laps of the races but he’s getting swallowed up in the opening turns because he doesn’t want to make a mistake and then he’s taking too long passing people because of the same thing. When he’s in free air, then he’s doing third or fourth place times without sweat.

“I understand that he made a few mistakes that set him on the back foot, and other things happened that didn’t help his confidence that I don’t agree with, but he’s now bouncing back. 

“He’s a third to fourth place WorldSBK rider all day right now and I think he can finish inside the top four in the Championship next year. 

“I think he’ll get a couple of race wins next year that maybe he should’ve had this year. He’s had the pace to do it a couple of times but for one reason or another, it’s not set him up right.”

Despite the commotion over his race day conduct, Gerloff ended the season with one of the better finishing records of anyone, suffering only four DNFs, consistency that earned him the status as top independent rider for 2021.

He will remain with the GRT Yamaha squad for the 2022 WorldSBK season.

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