Red Bull KTM rider Pol Espargaro will not need surgery after a fast crash on Sunday morning at the Czech Grand Prix, but with the Spaniard still undergoing observation in hospital for possible bruising to his spine in the fall, he will not race in the Austrian manufacturer’s home race this weekend.
Getting injured at the worst possible time with back-to-back races and a key test yesterday at Brno, it was instead left up to Bradley Smith to burden their entire testing program as test rider Mika Kallio also recovers from serious injuries sustained during a wildcard appearance at the last race in Germany.
Speaking after yesterday’s one-day outing at the Czech circuit, KTM boss Mike Leitner said: “Pol was checked in Barcelona on Monday morning and we had the positive news that he wouldn't need surgery for what is just a crack, rather than a full break to his collarbone. There was also no damage to other bones or to his spine. He will have another check this week when the swelling has reduced. Pol needs to rest and we’ll have to keep assessing and controlling his situation as he has a lot of neck pain. He’ll stay in hospital until the end of the week so for sure he will not make the Grand Prix at Spielberg.
“With regards to the test, Bradley has done well and worked hard to go through the programme even if we could not do everything we’d planned. I think what we have discovered should be able to help us in the second half of the year.”
And with only three days until their home race at the Red Bull Ring, it looks unlikely that KTM will be able to replace Espargaro. Unable to pull from a pool of experienced racers in other classes like World or British Superbikes like other manufacturers can, their options for replacement riders are slim.