Aprilia MotoGP rider Aleix Espargaro has revealed that he’s potentially facing a last-minute surgery ahead of the start of the season in only 10 days’ time, as the arm problems that first appeared on the opening day of the final ‘winter’ test at Portimao continued to worsen.
Unable to complete a full day of testing on Saturday but believing the issue to be arm pump potentially triggered by Aprilia’s new downforce-heavy aerodynamic configuration, he shrugged off the pain.
However, struggling again on Sunday with similar issues, he underwent examination by the team’s new on-site medics to understand the cause of the issue and instead received a provisional diagnosis of fibrosis rather than the more common arm pump issues.
“I cannot do many laps,” he explained. “Unfortunately I have no strength on my arm like yesterday, I just did a couple of short runs to try some geometries, something for the race, not really to develop the bike for the future.
“And it was quite positive, I was quite fast, but still I’m not riding good, I have no strength on the arm, I can do just two-three laps and then stop.
“It looks like a fibrosis. We did some echoes [ultrasounds] here with the doctor and it looks like I have a big fibrosis that is pushing the muscle, and this is why I have no power on the hand.”
A buildup of scar tissue inside the arm that can be caused by previous injury rather than the more usual swelling of the arm muscles inside their lining, the fibrosis is nonetheless something that Espargaro expects can be corrected by minor surgery.
“It looks like they have to open, clean it and close it again,” Espargaro added. “It’s not a dramatic surgery but anyway, tomorrow 8am in the morning I will be in Dexeus [University Hospital in Barcelona] to do more tests and see how we proceed. But anyway it’s very strange.
“It’s a little bit also worrying for me because it’s not really arm pump, I don’t feel the arm super big. But even the first lap I have no strength on the front brake. I’m not braking late because I can’t really push the brake. So it’s very very strange.
“It’s like if I hit something in a [past] crash or whatever, it’s very strange. But you can see a big inflammation on that zone that is pushing the muscle. And the feeling is not arm pump because the feeling is from the beginning, I have no strength. Like the arm was completely sleeping. It’s a bit frustrating.”
The good news for him, though, is that the setback comes at the end of not only a very successful few days at Portimao but a good series of winter tests as a whole, with the Spaniard very much carrying forward his title-contenting momentum of 2022 into the start of the new season and, alongside Aprilia team-mate Maverick Vinales, looking to be the only factory thus far able to challenge the might of Ducati.