Cycle News

Cycle News 2013 Issue 03 Jan 22

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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FEATURE P64 WROOOM 2013 SPIES UPDATE H aving just endured two miserable years, the Ducati Corse MotoGP team isn't making grandiose statements about the 2013 season. There is unanimity in the description of the job as a long-term project with no one offering predictions on where they expect to finish. At least not yet. And no one embodies this ethos more than Ignite Pramac Racing's Ben Spies. The former World Superbike Champion is coming off his least productive year as a professional racer. Not only were his results abysmal - there was no shortage of bad luck, but Spies owns his mistakes - but the season ended prematurely with a nasty crash in tropically wet Malaysia. An extensive operation to rebuild his shoulder followed, knocking him out of the final two races and denying him a chance to test the Pramac Ducati Desmosedici. When he rolls out onto the Sepang Circuit on February 5, it will be the first time he's ridden the Ducati. Because of his lack of experience on the bike and recovering shoulder, Spies made it absolutely clear that he won't be in the mix for bragging rights at any point in the test. >>How's the shoulder? It's working. It's there. Actually, I mean, it's coming along good. I think, obviously, nobody knows how bad it was and how much of a recovery it was because I didn't know in the beginning that it was going to be as long and as hard as it was, but it was. And we just had to work through it. Now I can say the injury is healed, but the muscle and the strength and the resistance in my shoulder are very weak right now. So I would say right now it's 60-70 percent. By the time I get to Malaysia I hope it to be 80 percent. So we'll be able to do the work that we need to do for the first test. We won't be doing any qualifying laps or any race distance stints, but we'll be able to go fast enough to do the right testing, learning the bike, learning the team. And in hindsight, it's probably the best thing, because we're going there and I know I'm not 100 percent, so I can take things slow and learn the bike in a slow way instead of just jumping on it, trying to go fast and skipping over a lot of the fine details of how the bike reacts and works. We can just take our time and I'll try to learn as much as I can out of the bike, work as much as I can with the team and understand them, and actually get to know the team in the first test and just work in a slow methodical way, and by the second test I'm 100 percent and my shoulder will be completely normal. I've already got pretty much 99 percent range of motion. And, like I said, the injury's completely healed. Now I've just got to get strength back and that doesn't happen overnight, unfortunately. One thing is to get strength and muscle, but to get resistance and endurance out of the muscle that can only from riding. And we have to wait because I can't ride a dirt bike and I haven't been able to ride anything this winter. So we wait to Malaysia and go from there. >>Have you spoken to any previous Ducati riders to get some kind of idea of what you're in for? Yeah, I've talked with Nick [Hayden] and Andrea [Iannone] a little bit, but not anything about the details about the bike, just kinda how the test went and stuff like that. Actually, Andrea was pretty positive about how the bike was at Valencia, his first impression at least. It was different than, I guess, the horror stories of what people have heard. I think the bike is very good. I think it's better than a lot of people have seen in the last two years. There was too many changes happening too often with the bike and they weren't able to get the max out of the package they had and they kept changing. So now the goal is to keep the bike the same, get the max out of the bike before throwing different swingarms and frames and stuff like that, and that's the real way to develop a bike and that's what we're going to do. So after talking with Andrea his first impression was better than he thought it was. And Tom [Houseworth], my crew chief, was working with [Ducati test rider Michele] Pirro and Tom actually said his impressions and knowing the geometry of the bike and the engine and everything that goes along with it, he said he was actually impressed with it and it was better than he thought, too. So I'm just going up to the first test with just an open mind. I'm not going to think about what people said, because people have had bad luck and then there's also a guy that won a whole lot of races and a championship on one, too. So it might just take a certain style and I might have that. I might not, and the bike might change in two months and be great or whatever. There's a lot of what-ifs right now, but until I get on the bike I won't know and I'm just gonna stay open-minded about it. >>In November you said you weren't worried about missing the Jerez test because the bike would be completely different than the one you'd ride in Sepang. What we heard from the other Ducati riders and manage-

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