Ben Spies Pulls Out Of Sepang With Rib Injuries, Grid Down To 16 Starters

The grid for tomorrow's Malaysian MotoGP race at Sepang has been cut from 18 to just 16 today. After the announcement that John Hopkins was pulling out due to his finger injury flaring up again, Yamaha's Ben Spies has also confirmed that he will not be able to race at Sepang. The Texan is still suffering badly from the injuries he picked up in a very high-speed crash at Phillip Island, where he suffered a concussion and damaged ribs, and after consulting with the team, Spies decided against racing on Sunday.

Spies damaged ribs, especially, have been very hard at Sepang, which features two of the hardest braking sections of the season on two successive corners. The strain imposed by braking from 300 km/h down to under 100 twice in a row places massive strain on on the riders' upper bodies, and this stress was proving too much for Spies. That became evident in two heavy crashes the Texan suffered on both Friday and Saturday, merely adding to Spies' misery. 

Spies will also miss the test scheduled for Monday, leaving only Yamaha test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga to ride Yamaha's 2012 M1. Spies will head back home to concentrate on recovering for the final round of MotoGP at Valencia, in two weeks' time.

Below is the official Yamaha press release announcing Spies' withdrawal:

Ben Spies to Withdraw From Grand Prix of Malaysia


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.

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for one fleeting weekend at Assen, but really 2011 has been the worst of years for the ascendancy of Mr. B Spies. The fickle fortunes of fate. Here's hoping for a fit and healthy 2012 to raise the bar once more. This man hasn't peaked in this class yet.

I'd look to 2012 as the year for Ben to secure his position as an 'Alien.' The dry race he won was not of pure luck.

I'd simply look to 2012 as a year of new starts for everyone. New bikes, new engine configurations, new manufacturers (BMW motors), and new teams. Let's be done with 2011 already.

It's not an unusual beginning for Motogp stars. Pedrosa and Lorenzo's first few years were full of set backs between good performances. Yes Ben has given away some costly opportunities that hopefully won't be repeated next year, but they are clearly fixable.

... have to take a break to give their bodies time to heal. That tumble he took out of the Southern Loop at Phillip Island would have put most people out of action right away but he (somehow) managed to get back to the paddock, get on his second bike and still post a qualifying time. Next day he was so stiff he could barely get on the Yamaha, and I believe he had some kind of (momentary) 'black out' in the warm-up session for the Australian Grand Prix, which is why he did not race. To take two more beatings at Sepang was beyond even his endurance. Still, it has been a good (not great) year for Ben and I have no doubt he will be back stronger in 2012.