Having just endured two miserable years, the Ducati Corse MotoGP team isn't making grandiose statements about the 2013 season. There is unanimity in the description of the job as a long-term project with no one offering predictions on where they expect to finish. At least not yet. And no one embodies this ethos more than Ignite Pramac Racing's Ben Spies.
The former World Superbike Champion is coming off his least productive year as a professional racer. Not only were his results abysmal - there was no shortage of bad luck, but Spies owns his mistakes - but the season ended prematurely with a nasty crash in tropically wet Malaysia. An extensive operation to rebuild his shoulder followed, knocking him out of the final two races and denying him a chance to test the Pramac Ducati Desmosedici. When he rolls out onto the Sepang Circuit on February 5, it will be the first time he's ridden the Ducati. Because of his lack of experience on the bike and recovering shoulder, Spies made it absolutely clear that he won't be in the mix for bragging rights at any point in the test.
How's the shoulder?
It's working. It's there. Actually, I mean, it's coming along good. I think, obviously, nobody knows how bad it was and how much of a recovery it was because I didn't know in the beginning that it was going to be as long and as hard as it was, but it was. And we just had to work through it. Now I can say the injury is healed, but the muscle and the strength and the resistance in my shoulder are very weak right now. So I would say right now it's 60-70 percent. By the time I get to Malaysia I hope it to be 80 percent. So we'll be able to do the work that we need to do for the first test. We don't be doing any qualifying laps or any race distance stints, but we'll be able to go fast enough to do the right testing, learning the bike, learning the team. And in hindsight, it's probably the best thing, because we're going there and I know I'm not 100 percent, so I can take things slow and learn the bike in a slow way instead of just jumping on it, trying to go fast and skipping over a lot of the fine details of how the bike reacts and works...
For the complete interview with Spies, click on the following link for our coverage of the Ducati Wrooom: