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Ben Spies expecting to struggle in Qatar MotoGP opener

Ben SpiesBen Spies admits he expects to struggle in next weekend's MotoGP season-opener in Qatar after a pre-season hit by injuries and poor weather.

The American switched from the works Yamaha squad to Ducati's satellite Pramac operation for 2013, but missed the early tests as a result of the injuries sustained in last year's Sepang Grand Prix.

He subsequently aggravated those injuries - which included an AC shoulder separation and bruised lung with a fall in testing at the Malaysian track.

While Spies says his shoulder is no longer a cause for concern, he admits he has not been able to dial in to the Ducati during pre-season and is expecting to struggle early on as a result.

He was more than two seconds off the pace on the penultimate day at Jerez

"The shoulder is actually improving quite a bit, didn't struggle at all with that," Spies reported.

"It was kind of a big relief, but we were a little but slower than we wanted to be.

"I had a decent lap on my timer [that] put me with all the Ducatis but we're still too far away from where we want to be.

"I just need to change the bike around for me, get more feeling [so I] can push the thing a little bit harder. Right now I'm kind of just sitting on top of it and not doing much.

"We know we're still behind and going to be behind going into the first race but that's just the way it is. We'll just keep plugging away."

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Spies aggravates injury with fall