Ben Spies is hoping the 19-day break between the Sepang MotoGP
tests will be enough to significantly improve his fitness and start pushing the limits of his new Pramac Ducati.
The former Factory Yamaha race winner made his MotoGP
return in testing earlier this month, having been side-lined by a shoulder injury - and subsequent surgery - at the same Malaysian circuit in last October's grand prix.
Spies rode for 48 laps over the opening two days, then sat out day three to rest his healing shoulder. The Texan then headed for Australia and some intense training, prior to next week's second test.
"I'd like to say I'll be 100 per cent [for Sepang II] but we've got to wait and see," Spies said before leaving Malaysia. "I've got the next two and a half weeks scheduled with my trainer and physio in Australia, doing the most we can.
"Hopefully we'll be a lot better. Not just my shoulder but my fitness in general.
"I did my first push-up three weeks ago. You work your training up from there, then come here and jump on a motorcycle and go pretty fast. So my body has been through a lot in the last month.
"The braking zones were where I could feel it on my shoulder most. I just backed up all the braking zones by a good bit and then the fatigue would kick in as well, but nothing I didn't expect.
"We are where we thought we would be physically. It's just not always fun when you're not 100 per cent."
The good news for the former AMA and World Superbike champion was that his best lap at Sepang was only 0.892s from top Ducati rider Nicky Hayden. The bad news was that Hayden was over two-seconds from Honda's Dani Pedrosa.
"It's not the greatest place to be at," Spies said of the gap between Ducati and the leading Honda and Yamaha riders.
"We know we've got our work cut out, but that's to be expected. Ducati knows it and the riders know we need to work the best way we can, together, to make the bike better.
"Right now, the package we've got we need to refine and get the most out of it, before you start throwing a whole lot of parts at it - when you don't really know what direction to go.
"I think that was the mistake the last couple of years. I think they are pretty open at saying they acknowledge that. The goal now is to get 100 per cent out of the current package, then develop it in the right way.
"We weren't even pushing the set-up or trying to make changes to improve the lap time. We just need to wait until I'm stronger, come back and twist the throttle, then see what needs to be changed."
The second Sepang test will be held from February 26-28.