Bed-Ridden Spies Speaks
by dean adams
Sunday, August 18, 2013

Ben Spies has had good luck at Indy, and Ben Spies has had bad luck at Indy. The former Indy podium-finisher crashed yesterday and injured his shoulder.
image by dean f adams

"I feel like I am on my deathbed," Ben Spies joked as he lay prone and shirtless on the bed in his motorhome with a group of media surrounding him this morning at Indy.

It was almost a similar scene to the Lincoln deathbed vigil, without the men in suits and the stained pillow. Fifteen journalists hovered over Spies in a surreal scene, a brown blanket covering him.

Spies had just received a pain-killing injection moments before the interview. The day after a rider suffers a shoulder injury is usually when the pain ramps up--Spies said he had not slept very well, if at all, last night.

"The next day you always feel like you've been hit by a train," he said. "I'm in a lot more pain and didn't take much pain medication yesterday. It was a rough night. I feel horrible," he said.

Spies asked that no video or photos be taken. He conducted the entire interview laying on his back, grimacing between questions.

He assessed the shoulder and wrist damage he has received. The shoulder damaged in this crash is the opposite one that underwent surgery last year.

The shoulder is the same, Spies said. It is definitely separated. I am going to see my doctor to see exactly what I am going to do.

The wrist, they saw a small shadow in it (an x-ray) in one of the bones. It's not displaced but it is really swollen. It's quite a bit of pain. I don't know what's up. Maybe nothing. It might be a really bad sprain. I don't want to jump to conclusions."

The American rider has suffered a near unprecedented run of bad luck dating back to the 2011 season. Spies initially suggested there were problems with the Ducati's traction control settings which may have contributed to the crash but today he said the crash was his fault.

"It's a lot more my fault than anything," he said. "It's just the way a lot of the systems work. When it is in first gear it doesn't work. You have to be in second gear (for it to be "armed"). But this track is unique, you stay in first gear until the exit of turn four."

Clearly, no matter how the system works, it didn't put him on the ground. After all, there are three other Ducati MotoGP bikes using the same system and none of those riders have suffered low speed crashes caused by the system not being enabled. If Spies is unfamiliar with how the system works it's because he hasn't ridden the bike much this year due to his injuries.

"If I'd been riding the bike this season it'd probably be something in my head," he said. "I would have realized or maybe been a bit more cautious. Looking at the data I didn't do anything much different than normal (before he crashed in that corner)."

It's definitely more my fault than anything," Spies said.

"I don't think the system helped the situation," Spies continued, "it's not the system that exactly caused it. Can't really say what was the problem. It's just one of those things. I feel bad for the fans and Ducati in general. It was just a stupid, silly mistake. Kind of like we saw with Jorge at Laguna that time. (In 2011 Lorenzo failed to enable the traction control system on his M1 and crashed heavily when the power of his M1 was not controlled by a computer.)

Spies and Hayden look to be on the oldest Ducati frames still in use in MotoGP, but Hayden did well with his yesterday in qualifying and Spies said he was happy with his progress as well. "I think we were doing a good job, but I was not happy to be in 12th place, to be less than one second off the pace of Nicky and Dovi who have raced and tested all season. We hadn't changed the bike at all, and we had two hours on the bike. We were close, and we were going to be able to fight."

After the media left, Spies had to be helped up and hobbled away.


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