SEPANG, MALAYSIA, OCT 21 –
Ben Spies is the senior member of Yamaha's factory squad this weekend in Malaysia, which is different than being the fastest Yamaha rider.Spies came by the title after teammate Jorge Lorenzo flew back to Majorca after severely injuring the ring finger on his left hand in the Australian Grand Prix morning warm-up. By then Spies was already damaged goods. The Texan hit a bump and crashed at over 165 mph in qualifying. Though he was able to go back out and record a time, the after-effects of the injury would prevent him from starting the race. The Australian Grand Prix was the first in years in which Yamaha didn't have a factory presence.This weekend he's joined by 30-year-old Yamaha test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga. Nakasuga tested the tarmac twice, harmlessly in the morning and more damagingly in the afternoon. He ended up 18th fastest and 4.140 secs. behind the pace set by Pedrosa."I have some soft tissue damage from...my upper two ribs that connect to the sternum and then some soft tissue damage to another area in my lower back," Spies explained.
"Basically, just when I brake it feels like I've got a knife stuck in my chest. I can't move left or right real good. It just affects a lot of stuff. It's one of those things that takes time to heal. They said two to four weeks to heal. I can't sleep like s--- right now. It's not a big injury, it's just a nagging, nagging thing that if I wasn't riding a motorcycle wouldn't be that big of a deal at all, but getting on a motorcycle hurts like hell."The ribs weren't detached from the sternum, but the connective tissue of two of his upper ribs was torn. Spies wasn't going to have a pain-killing injection, though he said he would take anti-inflammatories.Spies mentioned a two to four week recovery. Colin Edwards had a similar injury earlier this year and it took more like six weeks."Yeah, and I don't know if the guy realizes how hard it is to ride a MotoGP bike and the Gs you're pulling," Spies said of the doctor who made the diagnosis. "But we've two weeks left and we're just going to try and to get through it and hopefully Valencia will be a lot better. This place just has a lot of hard braking and it hurts quite a bit, but some parts of the track I feel good and some of the sectors we're in the top five and it feels OK and then some we're almost dead last. So we're doing what I can, but it just sucks right now."Originally it was thought the concussion would be the limiting factor. Spies flew from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur on Monday night, and "every time I went to sleep it felt like the plane was taking a hard left to the left. Maybe I should've waited a day. I had a headache the next day a little bit and I never get headaches, and then Wednesday was fine. My head's fine on the track, I can see clear, think clear, reactions are fine. Had all the testing. It's just right now I can't ride to what I need to be doing."What he needs to do is try to maintain fifth in the championship. Spies is 17 points in front of Simoncelli and 52 behind Pedrosa."My main goal now is to just to try keep fifth place in the championship," he said. "I've got no really great intentions for this weekend the way I felt on the bike today. It feels pretty bad. All we can do is try to stay consistent and put together a decent race and score some points.On Monday he's supposed to test the 2012 1000cc Yamaha YZR-M1 at Sepang, but he isn't sure he'll be up for it."I mean, that's another frustrating thing for me right," he began, "because I want to be able to, Monday, put in a good day and get all the stuff done that we need to get done. Right now I don't what the plan is, really."