Battered and bruised Ben Spies had to withdraw from the Malaysian Grand Prix just hours after vowing to ride through the pain barrier in Sepang. The Texan struggled with a major rib injury he picked up in a massive qualifying crash at Phillip Island a week prior that forced the 2009 World Superbike champion to sit out the Australian round.
Spies had a torrid time in sweltering heat at Sepang and after crashing in Saturday morning’s final free practice, he fell heavily again in the 60-minute qualifying session. The factory Yamaha rider lost control of his YZR-M1 machine at Turn 10 but he had initially pledged to start the 20-lap race and fight for a top 10 finish after eventually qualifying in 16th place.
But a Yamaha statement issued four hours after Spies spoke to the media in Sepang read: “Yamaha Factory Racing rider Ben Spies will not participate in tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Malaysia. Spies sustained a concussion and tearing of the soft tissue around the rib area after crashing during qualifying for the Grand Prix of Australia, preventing participation in the race. Despite starting this weekend with the full intention of racing, two further crashes during today’s practice sessions have highlighted the restrictions his injuries have imposed on his riding abilities. Following consultation between Yamaha management and the rider it has been jointly decided that it would be wise to not participate in the race to avoid the risk of further injury. Spies will also miss Monday’s 1000cc test in Sepang. This decision will allow Spies the optimum chance of recovery before the important final race of the season and subsequent 1000cc test at Valencia in two weeks time.”
Spies had set a best time of 2.03.678 to finish 2.216s behind Dani Pedrosa’s pole time and he said: “I feel like I’ve been dragged under a truck. It was a rough qualifying but we tried to do the best we could. On the first qualifying tire I wasn’t able to do a lap and said I was having a problem with the front tire. It was tucking for no reason and then I put the second soft rear tire on and on the first lap I lost the front and it turned into a little bit of a high-side. I don’t really know how it happened actually. It was a weird deal and I’m not able to be on top of things right now and not able to be quick enough to fix the mistakes.”
Asked what he thought was a realistic position to finish the penultimate race of the season, Spies added: “Top 10. I think that’s possible. Look at what attrition does in the race and if you stay calm and steady, hopefully I can finish in the top 10. We’re in Malaysia so we might as well go out there and show some support. I don’t want to sit there and watch the race that’s for damn sure, so we’ll try to be out there riding.”
Finger Injury Rules Out Heartbroken John Hopkins
The serious finger injury John Hopkins suffered in a crash during practice for the Brno MotoGP round back in August forced the American to withdraw from the Sepang race in Malaysia. Hopkins badly damaged the third finger on his right hand when he crashed in wet conditions during practice in the Czech Republic on August 13.
John Hopkins saw yet another GP wild card ride fall apart due to injury. The American’s broken finger once again caused trouble, forcing Hopper to withdraw at Sepang.
The injury has never really properly healed and it troubled the Californian throughout his bid to lift the 2011 British Superbike title, which ended in crushing disappointing when he lost to Tommy Hill in a thrilling last race shootout at Brands Hatch.
Hopkins finished 14th in Friday’s practice session at Sepang with a best time of 2.03.885. That left him 0.5s away from the top 10 and just 0.208s behind Valentino Rossi. But he learned the knuckle on his third finger had fractured again and he opted to withdraw from the Sepang race ahead of the third and final practice.
Hopkins has now had two wild card rides for Suzuki this season and not started both and he said: “It’s heartbreaking and I can’t express my disappointment. It’s such a shame and I couldn’t be more upset, but the priority now is to get it fixed and get myself ready for the 2012 season. I knew my hand was sore after yesterday afternoon, because it was hurting when I was riding. It is definitely a lot more painful riding a MotoGP bike than it was the British Superbike, mainly due to the immense braking forces on the GSV-R. I woke up just before six this morning and I had quite a bit of pain so I tried to loosen it up and bend it, but that wasn’t an option. The screws and the plates in the finger have come apart and there’s just no movement in the knuckle at all, so I cannot bend the finger. If I get any further damage to the injury it could result in amputation and certainly don’t want that! My Doctor is totally confident that he can fix it, but I just haven’t been able to rest it and give it the proper time needed to repair it over the last six weeks. I thought it would be fine to ride this weekend and had every hope of it working, but I didn’t expect the amount of force that goes into riding a GP bike would cause such a problem.”