Ben Spies plays safe in Sepang

Published: 08 February 2013

Ben Spies opted not to ride on the final day of his long awaited Ducati debut in Sepang while he continues a long and gruelling recovery from major right shoulder surgery.

The Texan arrived in Malaysia having been out of action since he badly damaged his right shoulder in a crash during a rain-hit race at Sepang back in October.

Major winter surgery was required but the long rehabilitation meant Spies has been rendered largely inactive for the last three months and the lack of training to get himself into peak physical condition took its toll in Sepang.

Having completed just 48-laps in the first two days on the Ignite Pramac Ducati, Spies didn’t ride on the final day in an attempt to rest the shoulder, so he gets close to 100% strength when testing resumes back in Sepang on February 26.

Explaining the reasoning behind his final day absence, Spies said: “I woke up this morning (Thursday) and was just a little bit sore from the two days of riding. It was only three weeks ago I started rehab and it's just difficult.

Not just my shoulder but my general physical fitness just isn't nowhere near where it needs to be and it's definitely taxing on the body. We need to be smart right now and do things the right way.

We've already had enough setbacks in the last few months and I think it's important to do the right stuff and not go over the limits and do anything silly or make any mistakes and dig ourselves in a hole physically for the next couple weeks instead of building forward for the next test.”

With a lack of strength in his recovery shoulder a key issue, Spies experienced other problems in his upper body while trying to compensate.

He added: “In the braking zones was where I could feel it and I just basically backed up every braking zone by a good bit and made sure we were always in control and not doing anything crazy.”

Spies finished 15th overall at the test with a best time of 2.03.002, which despite his weakened physical state was only 0.138s behind teammate Andrea Iannone.

He said: “Quite honestly to be as close as we were to the others guys on the same bike, I was really surprised. I didn't even expect that. I think we've done a good job so far.”

A lack of fitness and subsequent inability to push to the Desmosedici to its limit, Spies couldn’t make any serious assessment of the bike that destroyed Valentino Rossi’s confidence and morale in 2011 and 2012.

He told MCN: “Right now the first impression of the bike, it's nothing like I've read, but also we're nowhere near the pace of the fast guys. This test was just basically for me to get back on a bike and do something physical after the last few months and that's kind of what we've done. The one thing I can say is the gearbox is really smooth.

The bike's got a lot of power and straight up and down braking is good. Where I was braking the bike felt really strong but we never went through the corners at a rate where I was nervous or pushing the bike to its limits.”

See the February 13 issue of MCN for an in-depth 11-page special from the Sepang MotoGP test.