Ben Spies Making Progress in Sepang

Henny Ray Abrams | February 6, 2013
Ben Spies makes some progress at his first test on the Ingnite Pramac Racing Ducati at Sepang. Photography By: Gold   Goose.

Photography By: Gold & Goose

SEPANG, MALAYSIA, FEB 6 – Ignite Pramac Racing Team’s Ben Spies finished the second day of MotoGP testing faster than his Pramac Racing teammate Andrea Iannone and less than a second behind the factory Ducatis of Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso, while still not physically 100 percent.

The Texan had left the Sepang International Circuit on Tuesday with his right forearm in a protective sleeve after suffering the effects of not riding since his crash here in October. Spies initially thought it might be tendinitis, but that wasn’t the case, and today the forearm was much better. The surgically repaired shoulder was sore, which wasn’t a surprise, and less of a hindrance than it had been on the opening day of the test. Still, he and the team had imposed a limit of 40 laps, which he didn’t reach, partly because of afternoon rains that kept most riders in the garage.

“Honestly, you know, I feel better today in some ways and in some ways I’m definitely more sore,” Spies said after setting the 13th fastest time. “But the muscles in my shoulder that you use, obviously, when you’re riding… they seem a little more used to riding again, just kinda doing the movements. But obviously it’s sore from doing it yesterday. So, yeah, I feel better.

“We didn’t do a lot this morning, but for how hard we’re pushing and not really changing the bike, to be, I guess, less than a second off the other factory guys, I’m actually pretty surprised.” Spies’ best lap was 2:03.002 on the 22nd of 27. Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso was 10th fastest at 2:02.379, while Nicky Hayden led all Ducati riders by finishing in ninth fastest at 2:02.110. “So we’re still trying to be easy and kinda come up slow and not push the barriers too much, and I think for the first test we’re doing what we set out to do and actually I’m a little bit quicker than I thought I was going to be, so it’s going okay.”

As to the worries about tendinitis, he said he didn’t know if it was tendinitis, but said that his forearm “had some clicking and stuff. Not arm pump, It was weird, and I talked to the physio guy and he said, honestly, just from not really doing anything with that right forearm, because of my shoulder the first time I do it it’s like 3-4 gs on the brakes and it goes from nothing to extreme workout. And it was pretty normal today. Actually that’s what’s strange is I had no problems with it, but yesterday it hurt quite bad. So yeah, that’s not the problem today. The problem today is just kinda the shoulder’s sore from yesterday, but that’s it.”

Following his first day of testing the Texan had said he wasn’t going fast enough to give the motorcycle a thorough evaluation. Today he was a little faster, but still not at the point where he could assess the true nature of the bike.

“Honestly, still we’re definitely not pushing hard enough where we’re doing any changes with the bike,” he said. “I don’t want to be setting the bike up for riding it 75-80 percent. And we’ve done a couple things, like putting a thicker seat pad on, just so I had something to rest against on acceleration and I don’t have to use my arms so much. We tested the bars a little bit lower for a real feel of what I like and I actually liked it more. But with them being lower I was having to use kind of a different muscle on the brakes and it was weaker, so I needed to run them a little bit higher. So I’m not in the way to really set the bike or do much changing, because I’m not at the pace and I’m not riding the bike completely normal. So, right now it’s just, still just doing laps and just getting used to the bike and trying to learn the feel of it. And, yeah, we’re much faster today and feeling a lot more comfortable on the bike, but as in knowing the full potential of really trying to set it up, this test isn’t really useful to do that, because I don’t want to do anything in the wrong way.”

The second Sepang test, in three weeks’ time, will be a more accurate gauge of both his fitness and his thoughts on the motorcycle. At the moment, he’s not experience the problems most every other rider has felt with the front end of the Desmosedici.

“Right now it’s hard, like I said, it’s just hard to say, because when you’re a second off the other guys on the same bike that’s a big second and 2-2.5 seconds off the fastest time,” he said. “Right now I can say it doesn’t feel like what I’ve read. But once we go faster, I don’t know. It could feel better, it could feel worse. Right now, at this pace, the bike isn’t throwing any weird curveballs at me. It’s just me more or less getting up to speed and trusting the bike and myself again and stuff like that. And we’re doing that right now in a good way. I mean, really the only thing on the front end that I’m kinda struggling with or notice is some chatter, but nothing steering, nothing bad or anything like that. But I don’t know if the chatter’s with all the other bikes or anything like that. Right now it’s just hard to give a real good explanation or talk about the bike’s potential, because this isn’t the test to know and push it to find out. But in general, the first impression isn’t bad at all. So it’s me at this test, that’s for sure.”



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.