Yamaha factory rider Ben Spies went under a surgeon’s knife Tuesday night to repair the shoulder he separated in a crash during last weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix. Spies also fractured a rib and suffered contusions to his lungs in the accident.
Run in monsoon-like conditions, the scheduled 21-lap race was red-flagged after just 13 go-rounds, and Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa was declared the winner. Spies’ teammate, series points-leader Jorge Lorenzo, finished second. Following a luckless year plagued with a number of mechanical failures, 18 crashes, illness and, now, injury, Spies is currently 10th overall in points, his worst placing since joining the series full-time in 2010.
The 28-year-old Texan returned to the U.S. to have the operation, which took place at the National Surgery Center, a private hospital located near San Jose, California. According to Mary Spies, Ben’s mother, the 90-minute procedure, performed by Dr. Maury Harwood, went as planned.
“Ben had a right-side clavicle fixation,” said Mary Spies. “They took out the titanium plate that Dr. Kieffer did 10 or 12 years ago and used the ‘buttonhole’ method using the same screw holes. Once the surgical team was in there, they were surprised that the clavicle was so ‘loose.’ So, they had to do an ‘allograft’—a tissue graft from a cadaver.
“According to the doctor, Ben is going to come back stronger than ever, so that’s the good news. It’s just going to be a long rehabilitation—10 to 12 weeks.”
As a result, in addition to missing the final two GPs in Australia and Spain, Spies won’t be able to participate in any post-season testing. The former AMA and World Superbike champion and 2010 MotoGP rookie of the year was expected to ride a factory Ducati later this year in preparation for his move next year to the Audi-owned Italian manufacturer.
Yamaha says it does not intend to field a replacement rider for Spies this weekend at Phillip Island.