MotoGP

Smith punished for crash that injures team-mate Espargaro

Bradley Smith is handed a 3 place grid penalty for the next race he competes in after causing an accident that injures his own team-mate Aleix Espargaro

Aleix Espargaro is undergoing further checks on the condition of his knee after injuring it in a first lap accident triggered by his Aprilia Racing team-mate Bradley Smith.

Smith – the Aprilia test rider – returned to the MotoGP fray this weekend aboard a third RS-GP running development parts ahead of Monday’s in-season test but failed to endear himself to his bosses when he got it wrong under braking at Turn 10 on lap one.

Collecting his team-mate in the ensuing fracas, while Smith came down to end his afternoon early. Espargaro suffered a hard impact to his left knee.

Though he stayed upright to get back to the pit-lane, he had to be helped off his bike by his mechanics and taken to the medical centre, where a left knee contusion was confirmed.

A bitterly disappointing end to Espargaro’s home race, a post on Instagram revealed he will undergo checks on the knee on Monday.

Ironically, should Espargaro be forced to miss the next round, the Assen TT, it is likely that Smith will be the rider called up to replace him, but if he does he will be docked three positions on the grid as a punishment for his error.

"I'm sorry about what happened today, even more so because Aleix was involved," Smith said. "Unfortunately, in that braking section the situation was a bit chaotic, as often happens during the first laps. I hope he will have a quick recovery. Right now, we need to work with our full potential to develop the RS-GP."

Somewhat inevitably, Smith's error upset team boss Massimo Rivoli, who says 'these episodes should not occur'.

"This is undoubtedly a difficult time for us and Aleix’s injury is the most pressing issue right now. He is a supporting pillar of our team and we hope to see him back in the saddle as soon as possible. Even more disappointing is the fact that it was Bradley who caused the crash, who is working on developing the bike. These episodes should not occur."

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