MotoGP: KTM: 99% percent no Pol replacement in Austria
MotoGP: KTM '99%' sure no Espargaro replacement in Austria MotoGPNeil Morrison6 Aug 2018
KTM MotoGP team boss Mike Leitner says, if he has not suitably recovered from a collarbone fracture, he is '99%â sure the factory will not replace the injured Pol Espargaro at the Red Bull Ring.
KTMâs MotoGP team boss Mike Leitner has cast doubts over Pol Espargaroâs participation at the Austrian factoryâs home grand prix at Spielberg this weekend, and says he is â99 percentâ sure there will be no replacement rider for the event.
Sunday in the Czech Republic proved to be a nightmare day for the factoryâs MotoGP ensemble as Espargaroâs painful fall at tur n three in morning warm-up fractured his left collarbone and put him out of the race.
Several hours later, Bradley Smithâs afternoon came to a premature conclusion when he was tagged by Stefan Bradl at the same corner, an incident which led Leitner to label the day âa disaster â¦ I think it was the worst day since we started this project.â
Detailing the reasons for Espargaroâs heavy fall at turn three, Leitner said, âThere was no bike issue at all. He was on a quite slow lap and I think he tried to push for one more fast lap in the morning.
âOn braking for turn three he lost a little the rear, it lifted [off the ground], it came back and he tried to avoid the crash. Maybe the first moment he thought he would go straight but in the end he was so fast so he crashed before the gravel and thatâs it.
âTo be fair it was quite dramatic when they brought him back. He had such a pain in the shoulder area, we didnât kno w at all what was going on. Now heâs in the hospital, they checked him and itâs not as serious. Of course we thought he might have had a problem in the spinal [area].
âBut luckily there was nothing of that. Theyâve been very careful with him with the transport and everything. He had a lot of pain but now heâs in the hospital and Borja informed us that we are not allowed to go in.
âHe has a fracture on the collarbone but donât ask me how, because we donât have any comments from the doctors, no one is 100 percent sure. Most probably he will go to Spain and we will see what really happened.â
The Austrian also indicated it was very unlikely that Espargaro would be in Austria, and said the lack of possible replacement options with relevant MotoGP experience means Smith could well be KTMâs sole representative in this weekend's eleventh round of the season.
âTo be fair, and also out of respect we didnât even think [about replacement ride rs],â said Leitner. âThis is normal that if a rider misses a race you donât start immediately thinking about replacements. 99% nobody will ride on Polâs bike in Spielberg.
âOf course we would like to have two bikes for the home race. Also to be fair, to ride these bikes you donât find these people [who can do it] around the corner. You have to have a meaning. The people who can ride these bikes, most of them have a contract.â
Leitner also revealed some of Smithâs mechanical issues suffered over the weekend were a consequence of Mika Kallioâs absence in the test team, due to the serious knee injury suffered at the Sachsenring.
âWe had some electrical issues,â he said of Smithâs mechanicals on Saturday, which were related to a new engine. âWe try of course always to bring some new items to races because we donât have a test rider now so you are forced to bring some things to the race team. Not everything is working out in the first moments . So the situation, we donât have Mika, is making our life on the race weeks hard.â
So will they sample the new engine again at the Red Bull Ring? âThis we have to analyse because we stopped sometimes. We have some small issues. We have to be really 100 percent sure if we do this again. Probably at the home race with one rider we will start the race playing safe.âpol espargarÃ³ktm