Ben Spies' winter of discontent continued during testing this week at Sepang, as he aggravated his surgically repaired right shoulder in a crash.
Spies suffered shoulder spasms after falling on his elbow in a minor spill Wednesday in Turn 1 on his Pramac Ducati. He suffered a major injury to his shoulder in a crash last October during the soggy Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang, and the injury forced him to miss the last two races of the season on his Yamaha factory machine and also miss the post-Valencia test on his new Ducati.
Weakness in the shoulder caused Spies to miss the last day of a three-day test in early February at Sepang, his first outing on the Pramac GP13. He ended that test 15th overall at 2:03.002 and was 16th overall this week at Sepang at 2:03.055.
Despite the setback, Spies insists he will be in top condition for the season-opening Grand Prix of Qatar on April 7.
"At Qatar if I am not 100 percent, then I'll be upset," Spies said. "But I think that is possible, so nothing will be holding me back by then. It is getting better day-by-day, but it is just taking a lot longer I expected. I just have to keep working at getting it better, and I think at the Jerez test it will improve more."
"This was better than the first test, when I was way off physically and couldn't even ride the third day. Here I rode all three days, and while I didn't do a whole lot of laps, it was manageable. Now just after I do 30 laps, the shoulder starts getting weak and it is completely different from two weeks ago, so it is getting better."
Shoulder and wrist injuries are the biggest albatrosses of any Grand Prix rider. Broken fingers, ankles and even legs can be strapped or immobilized, but wrists and arms are subjected to constant, strong forces.