Before the Austin MotoGP race at Circuit of the Americas last weekend, Texan homeboy Ben Spies was feeling pretty good, with his shoulder seemingly healing well from surgery that was required due to the separation injury that occurred in the Malaysian Grand Prix last year. But it was apparent that things weren’t quite right with the Ignite Pramac Ducati rider from the get-go, and after finishing a disappointed 13th in the CotA race, Spies cited severe pain that manifested itself during morning warmup, and despite the best efforts of the Clinica Mobile crew to therapeutically get him back up to full strength, made his race more of a survival feat than anything else.
“I had a little problem with a nerve in my chest for some reason,” said Spies after the race. “I don’t know if it’s from overcompensating for my shoulder problem, which is actually getting a lot better compared to Qatar. That said, two laps before the end of the warm-up, I had a twinge in my chest. It was like a knife, so we went to the clinic and they worked on me a lot and got me ready for the race. I tried as hard as I could during the race, but it wasn’t enough. At 8 laps to go, it was either come in or salvage whatever points we could.”
Now that shoulder problem has apparently become worse than previously thought, as the Pramac team announced today that Spies will miss the upcoming MotoGP race at Jerez, and be replaced by factory Ducati test rider Michele Pirro. The Pramac press release is stating that Spies will undergo "three consecutive weeks of intense rehab in order to alleviate the strain in his pectorals and back muscles. Despite the constant improvement in the condition of his shoulder after recent surgery, Ben still needs further intense work to build up his muscle, and to acquire the necessary strength which will enable him to endure the stress during the race. Therefore the therapy will be different to what he has done so far, focused on limb mobility, thanks to his better physical condition. These three weeks of therapy will allow the Texan to be back for the Le Mans race."
Shoulder injuries can be a long and laborious battle back to fitness for a GP rider. Valentino Rossi suffered a similar injury back in 2010 while motocross training in Italy, and it continued to cause him enough problems that he eventually was forced to have surgery and take a good amount of time off for rehab—luckily during the winter off-season where there were no races or tests scheduled.