Having been ruled out of the Australian Grand Prix due to a fast qualifying fall, then forced to abandon a comeback at the following Malaysian round, Ben Spies is aiming to start his first MotoGP race since October 2 this weekend at Valencia.
Valencia will be far from a 'normal' event, with MotoGP coming to terms with the tragic loss of Marco Simoncelli at the previous Sepang race.
Spies and Simoncelli had battled on numerous occasions this season – finishing next to each other in the race results on five occasions.
Unlike some, Spies had no complaints about Simoncelli's riding during their battles and will miss racing him.
“I can't believe I won't be battling Marco on the track this weekend, it's an incredibly sad way to finish the season," said Spies. "I'm going to honour him in the best way I know how, on the track."
"Everyone is affected by the sad passing of Marco Simoncelli," added factory Yamaha team director Massimo Meregalli. "This last race of the season would usually be marked by a party to celebrate our year but this is not now in keeping with the mood and feeling of the team. As such we will wrap up with our yearly technical presentation and a quiet team dinner. "
Spies was also recovering from injury for the 2010 season finale at Valencia, when he qualified sixth and finishing just off the podium in fourth.
"As with last year I arrive in Valencia recovering from injuries, but will of course give 100% of my efforts into performing to the best of my ability," Spies said.
Spies is presently fifth in the world championship. He cannot catch Dani Pedrosa and is 17 points ahead of Simoncelli and Valentino Rossi, who are tied for sixth.
With Jorge Lorenzo unfit to race due to his finger injury, Spies will again be joined by test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga.
"We have Nakasuga-san with us having to learn the Valencia circuit for the first time, and Ben still not 100% after his crash in Australia," said Meregalli. "Despite this we will give our maximum effort to mark the final race of our 50th anniversary year and to honour the memory of Marco Simoncelli.”
Spies and Nakasuga will ride in the special 50th anniversary red-and-white colours this weekend.
Lorenzo, who attended Simoncelli's funeral in Italy last week, may return for next week's 1000cc test.