Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Ben Spies is in a fight for fitness to be ready for next Sunday’s MotoGP season finale in Valencia, as well as the the first test of the off-season, after dislocating his left ankle in a sighting lap crash at Sunday’s Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril.The Texan was making his way back to the grid on a dry track when he crashed, landing on the ankle that he’d originally damaged back in May at the French Grand Prix. Spies struggled to get to his feet before being transported to the Clinica Mobile.”I knew the race was going to be tough because I had never turned a lap in the dry on this track,” Spies said. “The first sighting lap was fine and on the second I just made a mistake at turn four. (Hiroshi) Aoyama and (Loris) Capirossi were in front of me and they nearly did the same thing. I just didn’t have the left side of the tire heated up enough and it spat me off. I’m frustrated because I’m sure even in the dry I could have had a fairly good race.”I’ve hurt my left ankle again and it’s pretty painful right now. I’ll have some more scans in Spain but my intention is to go to Valencia and race and hopefully do the test too. We’ll have to wait and see but that’s my plan right now.”The test is an important one for Spies, who was to get his first taste of the factory Yamaha that he’ll inherit from Valentino Rossi in 2011.Almost immediately, speculation began that Brit Cal Crutchlow, Spies’ replacement on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team, would fill in at Valencia, if Spies wasn’t fit. Crutchlow recently tested the Yamaha YZR-M1 in Japan, though in conditions that weren’t ideal.By not starting the race, Spies fell into a tie with Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden for sixth in the championship with 163 points. Hayden finished fifth in the Portuguese Grand Prix.
UPDATED: Ben Spies Out of Estoril
Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor
Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.