It’s the second practice session of the 2023 MotoGP season opener. GASGAS rider Pol Espargaro sits in 21st place on the time sheets. With less than 15 minutes remaining on the clock, the Spanish rider only has a few laps to improve his position before Saturday qualifying.
He's pushing harder than ever. Over the crest of turn 10 at Portugal’s Algarve International Circuit, Espargaro’s GASGAS-branded KTM RC 16 loses rear traction. He tries to right the ship but it’s too late. The bike flings the former Moto2 champion through the gravel trap. He tumbles head over heels before colliding with the track barricade.
The red flag waves. A 25-minute delay ensues, as MotoGP doctors stabilize the downed rider. Ultimately, the medical personnel airlift Espargaro to a nearby hospital in Faro, Portugal. There, the GASGAS rider learns that he sustained a pulmonary contusion, a jaw fracture, and two cervical vertebra fractures in the crash.
After administering initial treatment, the medical team transported the Catalan to Barcelona’s Dexeus University Hospital. Polyccio remained in the facility’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) until March 31, 2023. With the rider improving day by day, GASGAS Factory Racing Team Tech3 owner Hervé Poncharal remains optimistic.
“I have very good news about Pol,” explained Poncharal. “This morning he was transferred to a normal room, he got up and took a few steps and he is fine. He has sent Pit Beirer and all of us an incredibly dedicated message with a lot of heart and saying that he is going to do everything possible to be here as soon as possible.”
However, neither the doctors nor the team is able to establish a timeline for Espargaro’s return at this moment.
“He has had a very bad fracture in his jaw, and it is painful because he cannot speak and has to eat through a straw, but it is nothing serious, it is a painful moment, and it will not last long,” added Poncharal. “The main problem is [his] back. To reassure everyone, he will move again, run, walk, and will be fit to race in MotoGP again, but it takes time for his vertebrae to heal. He's in a [brace] right now, he can't move, and this is what will take a long time. This is the worst part of the injury. The rest, I would say that it is not a drama.”
Even if Espargaro misses the majority (or all) of the 2023 races, we’re just happy to see that the rider didn’t endure worse injuries in the brutal crash.