Ben Spies was fortunate to escape serious injury after a swingarm failure saw him crash out of fourth place in front of his home crowd at the Laguna Seca track in California.
Spies looked on course to equal his best result of the season when he lost control of his factory Yamaha YZR-M1 machine as he powered out of the Corkscrew on lap 22.
The Texan landed on top of his 1000cc machine and slid down the track towards Rainey Curve and the triple American Superbike champion was fortunate to escape injury.
Spies had already silenced his doubters questioning his motivation after he announced on the eve of his home race his shock plan to quit Yamaha at the end of 2012.
He hobbled to his YZR-M1 on crutches ahead of the race after damaging his left heel in a heavy qualifying crash on Saturday afternoon.
Spies had brilliantly kept Monster Yamaha Tech 3 duo Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow at bay until the catastrophic swingarm failure and Yamaha launched an immediate investigation into the cause of the malfunction.
A relieved Spies told MCN: “I had no warning. I was feeling good and the last ten laps I was definitely confident I could start to pull away. I had a little left up my sleeve for the last ten laps and was feeling good. We started stretching out on Dovi and I think we had a little over a second on him when it happened. All of a sudden when I got to the bottom of the Corkscrew the bike just went completely out from underneath me and had no control. It didn’t even slide. It just completely went to the bottom. I didn’t know what happened at first. Honestly I thought I hit a huge bump, but there’s no bump. Then we got the bike back and saw what happened. It’s frustrating but nobody’s fault. It’s not my fault or the team’s fault but just more bad luck.”
Yamaha pledged a swift and detailed analysis of the failed swingarm and Spies added: “It definitely broke and we just need to find out the reasons why. I went left at the Corkscrew and everything was fine. Then I went right, got on the gas, and as soon as the rear got any load to it, it just completely collapsed. Luckily it didn’t even give the chance to do a big high-side and while I was on top of it I didn’t get caught up in any moving parts.”
British rider Crutchlow was in fifth and caught the end of the Spies incident as he entered the jaw-dropping Corkscrew.
He told MCN: "It was really weird. He was pushing hard and when we came over the Corkscrew I knew he hadn’t crashed through his own fault. I knew something had happened because there was nothing that would cause him to crash like that. He definitely didn't deserve that luck because he was riding well but at least he didn't get hurt."
See the August 1 issue of MCN for nine pages of news and views from the Laguna Seca MotoGP round.