To explain Ben Spies’ presence in the GMT 94 box during the Portimao race, let’s go back in time and, in particular, to the story of one of the GMT 94 volunteers, Ababacar.
Born and raised in Ivory Coast, Ababacar attended university in France for a year before moving to the US to continue his studies. He then worked there as a financial analyst. A big fan of motorcycle racing since his teenage years, he realized his dream and started competing as an amateur on American racetracks. After a few years, was injured in a serious accident during a race at Summit Point Raceway that left him physically handicapped. Ababacar later returned to France to pursue treatment options and ended up staying indefinitely. A few years later, while getting involved in a benefit for an American teenager with a passion for motorcycle racing fighting a serious illness in a hospital, Ababacar contacted Ben Spies’ mother and manager for some autographed gifts for the boy. That started a friendship between them despite the long distance across the Atlantic Ocean. Close to GMT 94, Ababacar was doing some volunteer work for the team as a translator and advisor. His experience with American championships and racers was also valuable to Christophe Guyot in his work as a Eurosport commentator. When Ben Spies arrived in the WSBK championship in 2009, the friendship between his mother and Ababacar facilitated the initial meeting with Christophe.
Christophe Guyot: “Ben Spies has often been perceived as cold and distant during his racing career. I was fortunate enough to discover a different character, warm, pleasant, and human in ways that he did not necessarily show to his competitors, or even within his team. During his visit at Portimao, we talked about Ababacar, of course, but also about Ben’s commitment to young American racers. He asked me to watch one of them. This relationship and our commitment to bringing up promising young racers explains his Ben’s presence in our box at Portimao.”