Ben Spies has vowed to reward Ducati’s faith in him by returning to the form that at one time seemed destined to see him challenge for the MotoGP world championship.
The injury-ravaged Texan is unlikely to return to action until the Indianapolis round in mid-August while he continues the long and gruelling process of recovering from a severe right shoulder injury he suffered in a crash during a rain-hit Malaysian Grand Prix last October.
Spies has only raced twice since he joined the Ignite Ducati squad but the Bologna factory is standing by the 2009 World Superbike champion, who has one win and five podiums in his MotoGP career.
Spies attempted a return to action at the last race in Mugello but with his shoulder still not close to 100% strength he was forced to withdraw after the opening day of practice.
Ducati management met Spies in Mugello and while he has a two-year contract direct with Ducati Corse that effectively removes any doubt about his 2014 future, he said he wanted to show why Ducati had signed him after a nightmare final season in Yamaha’s factory squad.
The 28-year-old told MCN: “It is a comfort zone in some ways but I don’t want to be hurt. I want to be able to perform for the factory I signed for before I got hurt. I was hoping I was going to be the one to help Ducati to get where they need to be or at least help them like (Andrea) Dovizioso is doing now.
I still want to be that person they needed but I can’t be right now. Having a two-year deal and after meeting with Ducati and knowing how much they still believe in me gives me more faith and happiness. They know where I’m at and they know where I can be and where they want me to be.
I’m the most pleased I’ve been with any factory because I can see how much backing they have for me. Ducati has my back, which I am grateful for. They have been fantastic and they know I am doing everything I can.”
Spies is reluctant to set a return date further into the 2013 campaign but he has targeted his home race in Indianapolis as a possible comeback with the Laguna Seca clash next month too early.
He said: “I would love to be back at Laguna but when I start thinking of it like that I think Germany is only a week before so why wouldn’t I do that? Then you start to justify stuff and maybe you’ll do the wrong thing again. There is not a specific date on it and my personal goal is to be 100% and be pushing like I know I can at Indy.
If it is sooner then great and I think that is the first time I have set a realistic goal. It is a home race but it is not because of that. If you look at the time line and what I need to be at 100% that’s the first race that starts to make sense. If it doesn’t happen then it certainly won’t be much after that.
Laguna I would say I’d be rushing things but in six weeks maybe I can be 100% for there. Right now I’m shooting for Indy but I am not trying to set too many dates in my mind. I just want to get back and when they say I’m good to go and the right shoulder is as good as the left, that’s when I’m going to be come back and race when I know I’m not risking messing my shoulder up for 10 more years or for next year.
This is an injury where you can get back to 100% and not have a problem again but it is one that you can make last 18 months if you keep screwing around and not letting it heal the right way."