'Brilliant' Espargaro beats the pain

KTM team manager Mike Leitner thought Pol Espargaro had 'no chance' of finishing the Dutch MotoGP race.
'Brilliant' Espargaro beats the pain

After watching Pol Espargaro struggle with a right-hand injury from post-race testing in Barcelona during practice at Assen, Red Bull KTM team manager Mike Leitner doubted the Spaniard had any chance of completing the Dutch MotoGP race.

"Pol went from the hospital to the garage and there were a lot of question marks as well as pain for him in the practice sessions," Leitner said.

"If someone asked me after FP1 if Pol would finish the race I would have said ‘no chance’. To ride a MotoGP bike is not like riding a scooter in the paddock: it is a tough job. He did brilliantly."

Espargaro not only finished but was the top KTM rider in eleventh place, although he admitted it was getting dangerous towards the end of the 26 laps.

"It was the hardest race to handle the pain," he said. "At the beginning of the race I was quite comfortable, then the pain started about 12 laps before the end.

"5 laps before the finish I couldn't manage. Entering the fast right corners it was quite dangerous for me. So I just rolled off and stayed in that position, which was not that bad. I was the first KTM… with problems, so this is good."

Espargaro said that the injury, near his scaphoid bone, "cannot be healed with surgery or injections or whatever. It just needs time, ice and physio, which is what we don't have until the next race!"

Indeed, free practice for the German MotoGP starts at the Sachsenring on Friday.

"I would love to have the summer break now to recover my injury in the proper way but we have good memories of last year at Sachsenring when I was fast there.

"Hopefully with three days the injury can come a bit better and with some painkillers we can do a good race."

Espargaro is currently ninth in the world championship, compared to 14th at the end of last season.

Team-mate Johann Zarco failed to finish the Dutch TT due to arm pump.