MotoGP Sepang Test: Raul Fernandez to return home following opening day crash

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Raul Fernandez will take no further part in the Sepang MotoGP Test following a crash at turn 11 on the opening day.

The Trackhouse Racing Aprilia rider suffered a highside on his fourth lap of the day, with his RS-GP reportedly setting ablaze in the aftermath. Fernandez was taken to the medical centre before making a brief appearance back on the circuit in the afternoon.

Fernandez was then taken to hospital for further checks, and whilst nothing is broken, he has suffered heavy bruising to his pelvis and hip. In order to avoid any further injury, Fernandez will now return home to rest ahead of the two-day Qatar Test later this month.

“First of all, I would like to say sorry to Aprilia and our Trackhouse Racing MotoGP Team,” Fernandez said. “This morning in my first laps I had a big crash because of the track conditions. Honestly, I didn’t expect that coming. But because of that crash, I won’t be able to continue this test here in Sepang.

“I feel really, really bad, because we won’t have the chance to continue to understand the new bike better and to learn how it feels. For me, it’s just going to be important now to recover well and to rest.

“To ride the bike like this is not safe for me, so I need to focus on my recovery and try to be at 100% in Qatar test in order to do all the work we planned to do here. Again, I want to say sorry to Aprilia and the team.”

Raul Fernandez onboard the 2023 Aprilia RS-GP at Sepang.

Fernandez now loses crucial track time as he looks to adapt to the 2023 Aprilia RS-GP after spending last season onboard the 2022-spec machine. Teammate Miguel Oliveira will ride the 2024 RS-GP this season.

Fernandez is the second rider to be officially ruled out of the Sepang Test following confirmation that Franco Morbidelli will not be making an appearance. The Italian was knocked unconscious in a crash during the World Superbike test at Portimao, whilst riding a Ducati Panigale V4S.

Morbidelli was aided by Marc and Alex Marquez in the aftermath. The Marquez brothers moved the Prima Pramac Racing Ducati rider into a lateral position so that he could breathe.

“After the results of various exams, which indicated a good overall clinical picture, Prof. Franco Servadei recommended, as a precautionary measure, that Morbidelli should refrain from resuming sports activities for the next three weeks,” a team statement said.

The Qatar Test will take place on February 19-20, with the Lusail International Circuit set to host the opening round of the 2024 MotoGP season on March 8-10.