News 15 Feb 2018

Back surgery forces Espargaro out of Thailand test

Kallio and Smith to lead Red Bull KTM RC16 development at Chang.

Image: Supplied.

Spaniard Pol Espargaro will miss this week’s MotoGP test at Chang International Circuit in Thailand, currently recovering from back surgery.

The Red Bull KTM rider experienced back pain while training in Barcelona, examined soon afterwards and undergoing a successful operation to his L4 vertebra on Monday.

“I began to feel pain in my back at the end of last week,” Espargaro commented. “I thought at first that it was a nerve issue. I’ve had this in the past and I know that it can be quite painful, so I went to the hospital on Monday for some treatment.

“Doctor Caceres told me it was worse than I had thought and that I would need surgery. I decided to do this as soon as possible to avoid any further problems and to allow me to focus on being fit for the beginning of the season. It’s a shame to miss the test in Thailand because I also missed half of the Sepang test.

“It is an important test for us but I believe that Mika [Kallio], Bradley [Smith] and the whole team will do a great job. Now I need to focus on recovering from the surgery and then working on my physical condition to arrive as fit as possible to the last test in Qatar – this is something I didn’t expect, but that I now have to deal with.”

It is expected that Espargaro will rest for one week before being cleared to resume training, hopeful of beginning his rehabilitation as soon as possible in a bid to reach full fitness for the Qatar test on 1-3 March.