Ben Spies Has Surgery, Is Eager To Begin Recovery

Pramac Ducati MotoGP rider hopes to “get back to racing this season.”

Ben Spies race action from Indy

Pramac Racing Ducati MotoGP rider Ben Spies underwent surgery Thursday morning at North Central Surgical Center in Dallas, Texas, to fix a Grade 5 acromioclavicular separation of his left shoulder. In addition, scar tissue was removed from Spies’ right shoulder, which was reconstructed last October.

According to Spies’ mother, Mary, the two-hour operation was performed by Dr. Daniel Cooper, head physician for the Dallas Cowboys football team and a shoulder specialist. The 29-year-old Spies is expected to spend one night in the hospital.

Spies separated his shoulder in a heavy first-gear crash exiting Turn 4 of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s roadcourse on an “out” lap during practice for last Sunday’s Indianapolis Grand Prix. According to Pramac Racing Team Manager Francesco Guidotti, traction control on the Ducati GP13 only becomes active once the rider shifts into second gear.

Speaking from the bed in his motorhome, Spies took responsibility for the crash. “It’s my fault,” he said. “Usually, you come out of pit lane and hit second gear. But this track is unique: You stay in first gear all the way until you’re out of Turn 4. If I’d been riding the bike throughout the season, it probably would have been in my head.” Spies also sprained ligaments at the base of his left hand in the fall.

Spies is sponsored by Alpinestars, but at the time of the crash, he was not wearing the Italian company’s Tech Air Race suit, whose computer algorithms detect crashes and deploy airbags covering portions of the shoulders and upper back to help prevent injuries of this kind. According to company president Gabriele Mazzarolo, Spies is the only Alpinestars-backed MotoGP rider who doesn’t wear the Tech Air Race suit.

Returning to full health from this latest surgery will likely take several months, but Spies has not ruled out getting back on a bike before the end of this season. “I’m glad to be able to get the surgery done this week, so I can begin again the road to recovery,” he said. “Unfortunately, it was Grade 5, not 3, as initially thought, and recovery will be longer. That’s disappointing, but I’m looking forward to getting everything in order, so hopefully, I will be able to get back to racing this season.”

Spies missed most of the first half of this season rehabilitating his right shoulder. To date, the former AMA and World Superbike champion has completed two races on a Ducati MotoGP bike, the season-opening Grand Prix of Qatar and the inaugural Grand Prix of The Americas at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. Ducati Test Team rider Michele Pirro will replace Spies this weekend at the Czech Republic Grand Prix.

Ben Spies resting in hospital bed