Ignite Ducati rider Ben Spies will make his return to MotoGP action in Mugello this weekend hoping that his long-standing injury problems are behind him.
The Texan missed the last two races in Jerez and Le Mans to give injuries associated with a severe shoulder injury he suffered in Sepang last October sufficient time to heal.
While the 2009 World Superbike champion was compensating for a lack of strength and movement in is right shoulder, he was stressing other parts of his upper body and after a tough home race in Austin last month he opted for further intensive treatment with specialists in Texas.
Spies is back for Ducati’s crucial home race in Italy this weekend and he said he is optimistic about his fitness and prospects for Sunday’s Mugello clash.
Spies told MCN: “The only thing that is a worry is getting back into a race pace and the rhythm of the race weekend. I missed two races and a test here so I'm on the back foot. But I hope the problems are over and it is just a matter of getting back up to speed."
Spies said it was difficult to gauge just how close to being 100% he is until he jumps on board the Desmosedici GP13 for the first time in over a month tomorrow.
He added: “It is hard to know. With everyday things I'm pain free but riding a bike is a different level. Fitness wise everything is fine, now it is a matter of getting back into riding after a break. It will take a couple of days to get the speed back but I'll know on Sunday.
"A rain free weekend will give me a better idea of where I am at and if I need to work on anything. Injury wise the surgery fixed that in October. The main problem has been the weakness in my chest, shoulders and back. On paper the actual injury is stronger than a normal shoulder."
Spies has undertaken an intensive rehab in recent weeks in a bid to get strong enough to return to action and he said: “I've been doing four and five days of rehab a week taking two to five hours a day to get back to fitness.
"I had to work on specific muscles to strengthen my shoulder so that wasn't compensating in other areas, which is the reason my chest got hurt in Austin. I needed the time off to finish he rehab but it was hard watching the last couple of races. It was a difficult few weeks at home but it has paid off."