GasGas Factory Racing Tech3 rider Pol Espargaro is facing a lengthy period out of MotoGP action after the full extent of the injuries he suffered in an accident during the Portimao season opener came to light.
The Spaniard suffered a high-side at the Portuguese venue’s crested Turn 11 right-hander before skidding across a short gravel-topped run-off area and striking the armco during Friday Practice 2.
The hard impact with the barrier left Espargaro nursing with multiple injuries, including a lung contusion, a broken jaw and a fractured dorsal vertebrae.
A week on from the accident, Tech3 Racing boss Herve Poncharal provided an update on the Spaniard’s condition following several days spent in intensive care at Barcelona’s Dexeus Hospital.
Speaking to MotoGP.com’s Simon Crafar during first practice for the Argentinian MotoGP, Poncharal said Espargaro has undergone surgery on his jaw, but added it is the legacy of his back injury that will keep him out of action for an extended period of time.
“He had a nasty fracture on the jaw and this is painful because he can’t talk and he has to eat with a straw but it is nothing really serious,” he said ahead of this weekend’s event at Termas de Rio Hondo.
“It’s a painful moment to go through and it won’t last long, but the main problem is the back. To reassure everyone he will be back moving, running, walking and in a position to ride in MotoGP again, but it takes time to heal the vertebrae.
“So the vertebrae have been fractured, he’s in a corset at the moment, he can’t move and this is what will take long. This is the worst part of the injury. The rest, I would say no drama.”
“We don’t want to talk about how long he will be out, because riders can surprise us sometimes.
“Sure it will be a long time and he will miss quite a few races but never say never with a rider, and for sure, the doctors will be surprised to see him coming back earlier than they expected.”
While GasGas Tech3 are flying solo in Argentina this weekend with Espargaro’s rookie team-mate Augusto Fernandez, Jonas Folger has been announced as the Spaniard’s replacement for round three at COTA, Texas.
A shock return to both MotoGP and Tech3 Racing, it comes some six years after Folger’s burgeoning career was curtailed abruptly due to illness while competing in his rookie campaign aboard a satellite Yamaha M1. It will be the 29-year old’s first MotoGP start since the 2017 Aragon MotoGP.
Espargaro wasn’t the only MotoGP rider to start their season with an injury time-out after Enea Bastianini (Ducati Corse), Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) and Miguel Oliveira (RNF Aprilia) were also withdrawn to leave just 18 riders on the grid for Saturday’s Sprint Race and Sunday’s main GP.