until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Espargaro in agony at Mugello after on-the-phone bike crash

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Aprilia MotoGP rider Aleix Espargaro is seeking to salvage his Italian Grand Prix weekend after a “stupid” bicycle crash on Thursday while using his phone has left him in serious strife.

The 33-year-old, well-known in MotoGP as a major cycling enthusiast, effectively replicated the mistake of compatriot Alex Rins from two years ago in having a serious phone-triggered accident.

Like Rins, he had been riding at the circuit, but while Rins’ crash ruled him out of contesting that year’s Barcelona weekend, Espargaro appears to have avoided fractures and is riding through pain.

“It was a stupid thing,” he explained on Friday, having stayed quiet about the affair the day before.

“I decided to go out to do two hours [of riding] and it was quite foggy, was super foggy yesterday morning. So I said to myself ‘okay, stay in the track, it’s more safe’. And being on track you are more relaxed, and I was using the telephone like stupid, and I had a big-big-big-big crash.”

The wider public got its first indication that something was seriously wrong on Espargaro’s side after he appeared to be in tears following his opening run in first Friday practice, and then couldn’t walk away without requiring marshal assistance after a fall off his RS-GP.

“I have on my back and arm and everything a big bruise, but this is not the biggest problem. My heel is destroyed. I have a lot of pain, I have a lot of blood inside.


“We removed the blood for the second session. I have a lot of pain and I cannot use the rear brake. I said sorry to the team many times, so I will try my best, as I did today, to be careful in the last laps, to put the bike in the top 10, I will do the same for Sunday.”

Espargaro said he and the team had considered switching to a thumb-operated rear brake if he were too slow, but decided against it – as the risk of that causing an accident was taken into account, and he had proven competitive anyway even just limiting himself to the front brake.

But, despite leaning on painkillers, he hinted that the pain he had felt on Friday was perhaps unprecedented in his MotoGP career.

“I raced in my career with big injuries, I destroyed both my hands and one week after operation I raced no problem.

“I destroyed my left heel at Silverstone [last year], I raced on Sunday, was not a disaster. But this time, nothing is broken but it’s full of blood, it’s something on the ligaments or something that we will discover on Monday.

“But for sure it’s something that is not the bone, that doesn’t allow me to use the rear brake. When I use the rear brake, it’s crazy, the pain, it’s crazy. It’s unbelievable.

“When there is more blood [in the heel], when I put the boot on and I move, I see stars. It is crazy, the pain. The only thing we can do is remove the blood and ice, ice, ice.”

Espargaro acknowledged having the blood drained repeatedly could create a significant risk of infection, and so hopes he’ll only have to do it once more this weekend – before Sunday’s race.

He admitted he would’ve considered sitting out the sprint entirely to rest, but won’t do so as it’s Aprilia’s home race and he already accepts he’d let the manufacturer down.

“The mistake I did is there. I will not change it. But I can finish with a good performance, at least will be good.”

Despite all this, however, the Spaniard thrust himself into an automatic Q2 spot in the final moments of Friday practice, placing ninth – as the only Aprilia in the top 10, his last-gasp lap having relegated team-mate Maverick Vinales to Q1.


“I was extremely happy, because I have a really bad feeling inside for the team. So at least when I put the bike in top 10 I was quite happy.

“And I saw that there was no other Aprilia in the top 10 – so I was very happy at least for the team, to put the bike in the top 10. I know that it will improve day by day, the foot. So, the goal here is to fight for the victory. I don’t know if I will arrive there, but at least to be competitive in the home GP.

“I think I could’ve finished in a better position but first lap I went wide, second lap I got yellow flags [for Fabio Di Giannantonio’s crash] and I did my laptime in lap three, that the tyre was already dropped.

“Actually, [Takaaki] Nakagami crashed in front of me, I lost also time there because I was quite close.”

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