Alex De Angelis To Replace Ben Spies At Laguna, Spies Expected Back At Indy

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.

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It is going to be an interesting, if not scary weekend for De Angelis. Hopping on a MotoGP bike halfway the season is already like being thrown in at the deep end, even though he has experience on the 800's. But doing so on the Ducati Desmosedici seems to make it just that bit more 'exciting'.

Still, he had some really good races back then, like Mugello 2008, where he came storming from the back of the field to finish 4th (I vividly remember that one), and a 2nd at Indianapolis 2009. On a Honda RC212V, of course... But who knows, often people really shine when they have a single opportunity. And not too many bad experiences on the Duc either.

Not true. Ligament/Cartilage damage is waaay different than getting your collarbone plated. I've had my collarbone plated and everything does work pretty well right away. I've also had my ACL replaced and microfracture surgery on my knee cartilage and there's no way that works well even after a few months. I'd much rather break a bone than mangle a joint.

Could you imagine holding on to a 1000cc GP machine with a borked shoulder? Spies has been the source of a little bit of a disappointment, but not (deservedly) because of this.

I broke my right collar bone and trashed my right shoulder in a race crash on August 31st last season. I didn't get the collar bone plated, but it did heal eventually, and aside from a big old bump, but that's typical.

As for the shoulder - that will never be the same. My injury didn't require surgery, but I hit the ground at somewhere around 100mph. I did a lot of soft tissue damage and irritated all the intricate parts of the joint. After rehab, I believe I'm at as strong as the shoulder will ever be again. I know the pain and the process of fixing it, but I can't help thinking that if you're a GP rider, and this is what you do, the drive one has to get back on the bike, race and collect points must be very strong. I think Spies is perhaps making the safe bet, but is the safe bet always the best bet? So far, he's all but deleted himself from the season. I was really hoping to see him ride @ Laguna.