Struggling Ben Spies to withdraw from Mugello race?

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Injury-hit Ben Spies has admitted withdrawing from Sunday’s Italian MotoGP race on Sunday is an option under consideration after he endured a tough return to action in Mugello.

The Ignite Ducati rider was 16th fastest and over 2.7s off the pace while he continues to struggle with complications from a serious right shoulder injury he suffered in Sepang last October.

Compensating for the shoulder injury has seen the former World Superbike champion over stress other parts of his upper body and he missed the Jerez and Le Mans races to try and give himself more time to heal.

But a lap of 1.51.105 today that left him 2.730s behind 2012 factory Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo has proven that Spies is still way short of 100% fitness and strength.

After a gruelling return to action at the long and technical Mugello track, Spies said that withdrawing from the 23-lap race was something he would have to discuss with his Pramac squad and Ducati.

Asked whether not participating in Sunday’s race was under consideration, he said: “Right now that would be one of the considerations but there are lot of things to discuss. That's the last one on the list but it is something we need to talk about. Riding the bike is not the easiest thing right now but it is to be expected so we need to decide on what to do and how to approach the weekend and what to do next.  I have seen a huge improvement in my shoulder for doing everyday things, even in the gym, but there is no getting around it on the bike it is a completely different story. I am feeling things that I had no idea were a problem again. It is not easy, it is a struggle right now so we need to figure out the best plan of action."

Spies said he was suffering more from weakness than actual pain and he added: “It is more the weakness and instability of it rather than pain, although there is some pain. 

"I'm upset about it but I'm not surprised. When I was doing rehab they said everything was going well but they told me that until I'm 100% it is two or three months away and that was only couple of weeks ago.

"Obviously I thought I was ahead of that and feeling good, doing the normal workouts but when I get back on the bike I've realised I am not 100% and it shows out there. I can feel it.

"I almost had a big crash this morning because I couldn't control everything. I'm not happy about things, so I need to talk with everybody and see what the smartest thing is to do. The change of direction is the worst.

"The straight line braking is much better here compared to Austin but the left to right move while controlling the throttle and getting back to the brake after that is where I am struggling. Through the third and fourth gear chicanes is where I am definitely struggling."

Asked if he felt riding in Mugello was risking prolonging his recovery, Spies said: “There are pros and cons but honestly the doctors and rehab people say I'm a couple of months away. A lot of riders can ride through injury but with this type of injury and what I am feeling on the bike unfortunately I think riding doesn't help the matter. 

"I've only had four or five weeks of rehab because I was travelling and riding. The best solution is to do everything right and the proper course of rehab but I thought riding the bike was the best thing to do but maybe it isn't."

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt