Christina Bulpett |
Picture: GeeBee Images
Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro completed a heroic ninth place finish in Sunday’s BritishGP, just a day after fracturing his right heel in an FP4 highside.
While the full extent of the Spaniard’s injuries were not diagnosed until Monday, Espargaro was visibly in a lot of pain throughout both qualifying and the race – with assistance needed on Saturday afternoon to allow him to walk.
Riding through the pain barrier, he launched from sixth on the grid before completing the 20-lap race around the longest circuit on the calendar in ninth position, just one back from MotoGP Championship rival Fabio Quartararo. When asked if he would have taken that result in the aftermath of his 115mph off, he was quick to agree.
“When I was on the tarmac, lying? Yes, because I felt a lot of pain on my feet, a lot of energy,” Espargaro admitted. “I thought I destroy both ankles, after the qualifying, after the adrenaline [faded], I couldn’t even walk. But it’s fair to say that I improved quite a lot during the night.
“The doctor did a really good job and today, it wasn’t an excuse for the ninth place, the pain.
“Obviously I wasn’t riding comfortable,” he continued. “I couldn’t move really free on the bike and I lose a lot of time in the corner where I crashed yesterday. But overall, I’m satisfied because I didn’t lose any points in terms of championship fight. That’s okay.”
While the pain and injury certainly impacted his race, Espargaro was still convinced there was more to make of the Silverstone battle.
“I didn’t really feel competitive during the race and it’s a shame because I show a good speed during all the weekend and I don’t know why it didn’t have traction on the right corners,” he explained. “It’s true that also I wasn’t able, really to lean my body on the right so I didn’t really have the bike to turn. But overall, we lost a good opportunity because I was competitive all weekend and it was good to recover points to Fabio but this is racing.”
Espargaro wasn’t the only title fighter to suffer at the British track. Championship leader Fabio Quartararo never looked himself after dispatching his long lap penalty – issued after collecting the RS-GP rider during the Assen TT before etc summer break – thanks in no small part to the Yamaha M1’s struggles with tire temperatures when in a group. With the pair running towards the back of the leading group, Ducati’s Pecco Bagnaia arrived to steal the victory and a haul of 25 points.
“That’s good,” Espargaro commented before elaborating. “I mean, if Pecco is joining the party, this is more pressure for Fabio because he’s the leader. I don’t think Pecco is pushing to finish second in the championship, is the same to finish second or third. What he wants is to win and he’s getting closer to his goal and this means more pressure for the leader.
“I like it, as more difficult it is for everybody, more fun is going to be the party and I will be there to fight with them.”
With a fractured right heel diagnosed, and the other leg having taken a similar impact, there is nothing but a week of rest and recovery ahead of the 32-year-old before the Paddock returns to the Red Bull Ring, in Austria for round 13 .
“For sure this next week, I have to rest,” he confirmed. “I’m really sore all the body, I have a lot of pain in the ankles, also on my back, my neck, everything. So hopefully two/three days of full rest and then next week before Austria I will be able to start to train a little bit. But now I really need to relax because the impact was quite huge!”