Ben Spies' absence due to his shoulder injury will extend to Laguna Seca. The Texan is still going through physical rehab to get the shoulder he injured at Sepang last year up to strength, and he hopes to be back to full fitness for the final US round of MotoGP at Indianapolis at the end of August.
With Spies still out for two more races, the Ignite Pramac team needs a replacement. Michele Pirro will take Spies' place at the Sachsenring in just under two week's time, but Ducati's official test rider is not available for Laguna, as he has more testing scheduled that week at Misano in Italy. As a result, Pramac has asked Alex De Angelis to step in for the Laguna Seca round, as the lack of a Moto2 round at Laguna means the NGM Forward rider is availabe to take Spies' seat at the California circuit. De Angelis already has MotoGP experience, having raced two seasons for the Gresini Honda team in 2008 and 2009, and having replaced Hiroshi Aoyama for three rounds in 2010.
Spies' recovery is taking a very long time, an indication of the seriousness of the Texan's injury. The shoulder is the most complicated joint in the body, and Spies suffered serious soft tissue damage in the crash in Malaysia. Such injuries are slow to heal - Valentino Rossi estimated that he wasn't really at 100% for 6 or 7 months after his shoulder surgery in November 2010 - and can be delayed if not handled properly. Spies' decision to go testing in Malaysia, three months after his surgery, proved to be the wrong one, he admitted at Mugello earlier this year. When he then tried to make a second return at Mugello, he quickly realized his shoulder was still not strong enough, and it needed more time to recover fully. Riding with his shoulder still weak would have been dangerous, not just for him but for other riders, Spies told reporters at Mugello. He had decided to return only once he was 100% fit and ready and able to ride a racing motorcycle. Before making a final decision to race, Spies would test himself on a race bike, preferably his MotoGP machine, and otherwise a Ducati Panigale as close to Superbike spec as possible.
Below is the press release issued by the Pramac team on Spies' absence, and De Angelis replacing the Texan:
Alex De Angelis and Ignite Pramac Racing Team together at Laguna Seca
Alex De Angelis is to step in as replacement rider for Ben Spies at Laguna Seca on the Ignite Pramac Racing Team’s Ducati Desmosedici GP13. The man from San Marino will be able to take part in the second US round this year due to the fact that the Moto2 World Championship is not scheduled to race that weekend.
Michele Pirro, Ducati’s tester and rider, will continue to replace the Texan until Sachsenring, but will not be able to take part in the American race because he is involved in a test session scheduled for Misano from 23 to 25 July.
Ben Spies is expected to return to racing at the Indianapolis Grand Prix on August 18.
Alex is not new to the top class, having already taken part in two seasons of MotoGP in 2008 and 2009, and also in 2010 as replacement rider for the injured Hiroshi Aoyama in three rounds.
De Angelis, who currently rides for the NGM Mobile Forward Racing Team, will get his first opportunity to try out the Desmosedici GP13, during the forthcoming Ducati test session scheduled for Misano this coming week. Alex will test the bike on Thursday 4 July.
The Pramac Racing Team and Ducati wish to thank the NGM Mobile Forward Racing Team and the San Marino rider for their availability in making possible this collaboration.