American Ben Spies has not raced in the last three MotoGP events this season due to chest muscle problems and shoulder weakness caused by reconstructive shoulder surgery last October.
The news might get worse for Elbowz: He may miss the next four races, too. Spies may not return to his Pramac Ducati until the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 16-18.
Spies' original return target reportedly was July 21 at Laguna Seca. But European media reports indicate he would prefer to return on the less-taxing, flat circuit at Indy than at hilly Laguna, with its famous Corkscrew turn.
"I would love to be back at Laguna, but when I start thinking of it like that, I think Germany is only a week before, so why wouldn't I do that?" Spies said to British media. "Then you start to justify stuff and maybe you'll do the wrong thing again. There is not a specific date on it, and my personal goal is to be 100 percent and be pushing like I know I can at Indy.
"Right now, I'm shooting for Indy, but I am not trying to set too many dates in my mind. I just want to get back and when they say I'm good to go and the right shoulder is as good as the left, that's when I'm going to be come back and race when I know I'm not risking messing my shoulder up for 10 more years or for next year.
"This is an injury where you can get back to 100 percent and not have a problem again, but it is one that you can make last 18 months if you keep screwing around and not letting it heal the right way."
Ducati team management apparently has blessed Spies' recovery plan after meeting with him after he withdrew from the Italian Grand Prix earlier this month at Mugello after participating only in practice Friday.
Obviously Ducati don't want a rider on the bike who is primarily concerned with being injured or making his current injury worse.
Logically, Ducati will require Spies to test the bike before he re-enters MotoGP racing but how and when that will be accomplished is unknown.