Ben Spies Out of Malaysian Grand Prix

Henny Ray Abrams | October 22, 2011


Yamaha’s Ben Spies joined teammate Jorge Lorenzo on the sidelines after withdrawing from Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang.Spies arrived in Malaysia still suffering from injuries incurred during a qualifying crash for last week’s Australian Grand Prix. The Texan didn’t race in Australia, but was hopeful of racing here. But almost from the moment he sat on the bike he knew it was going to be difficult.On Friday he explained that the damage was to his ribs, which made him feel like he’d been shot. He didn’t feel right on the motorcycle and could only hope for overnight improvement. It never came. Instead he was a downfield 16th in the qualifying session, which included a mostly harmless crash.”I feel like I’ve been dragged under a truck,” Spies said after qualifying, and before he and the team made the decision to abandon the race. “It was a rough qualifying but we tried to do the best we could. Then just came in for the first qualifying tire and I wasn’t able to do a lap and said I was having a problem with the front tire and was tucking the front for no reason and put the second tire on and on the first lap I lost the front and it turned into a little bit of a high-side, but I don’t really know how it happened actually. It was a weird deal and I’m not able to be on top of things right now and not able to be quick enough to fix the mistakes but it was a rough qualifying session and we’ll try and get rested up try to get ready for tomorrow.”Asked if he planned to race he said, “Yes.” Asked where he thought he could finish, he said,

“Top 10. I think that’s possible. You look at the field and look at what attrition does in the race and if you stay calm and steady-I don’t plan on battling out in the top 10-but I just plan on last man standing and hopefully finishing in the top 10.”About four hours after he spoke to the media he and the team decided to withdraw his entry.

In a statement, the team said, “Spies sustained a concussion and tearing of the soft tissue around the rib area after crashing during qualifying for the Grand Prix of Australia, preventing participation in the race. Despite starting this weekend with the full intention of racing, two further crashes during today’s practice sessions have highlighted the restrictions his injuries have imposed on his riding abilities.”Following consultation between Yamaha management and the rider it has been jointly decided that it would be wise to not participate in the race to avoid the risk of further injury. Spies will also miss Monday’s 1000cc test in Sepang.”This decision will allow Spies the optimum chance of recovery before the important final race of the season and subsequent 1000cc test at Valencia in two weeks time.”Lorenzo never made the trip to Malaysia. The Majorcan flew straight home from Australia for surgery on his heavily damaged finger. He was replaced by Yamaha test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga, who qualified 17th.Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards was the top Yamaha qualifier in fourth place, his best of the season and best since Valencia in 2008.

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.