In the first part of our exclusive interview with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Pol Espargaro, the Spaniard talks us through his Aragon crash, which left him with a left wrist fracture, offers an update on his health, ahead of the Thai Grand Prix in just over a week, and what his expectations for the remainder of the 2019 season are.
We’ve seen you playing the piano and skipping on your Twitter and Instagram, so can we assume that your recovery is on track? How are you feeling?
The truth is that everything is healing very fast because I was operated on very recently but I feel quite good. Even so, very cautiously, I want to get to Thailand, so I can't rest too much despite the doctors and physios telling me to rest. I try to push myself to the fullest, but I don't know if it will be enough to get to Thailand. With these few days, though, I think the evolution is good and I am very positive.
60 horas después de la cirugía en la mano más o menos ya puedo tocar el piano!!! ???????? // 60 hours post surgery I can (more or less) play the piano ???????? pic.twitter.com/UQSz35U7HH— Pol Espargaró (@polespargaro) September 24, 2019
Is the idea of going to Thailand your desire or have you been given medical advice that makes it a real option?
After just a few days from the operation, the doctors cannot see within 11 days what an injury is like. What we do is take the injuries to the limit, and they are things that people don't normally do and it's not recommended to do. Therefore, it's difficult for them to give any forecasts, but the truth is that I feel good. Obviously, I don't know how well I'll be but for me it's essential to be in Thailand and not miss a race. I already missed the one in Aragón and it's important for me and for the team that we continue rolling as soon as possible.
Talking of Aragon, what exactly do you remember about the crash? It was a bit strange, was it because the tyre was cold?
Yes, looking back it makes me very angry, because when you crash by going over the limit then you're always looking for the limit, you find it and you learn from your mistakes. But in these types of crashes are stupid because you're not paying attention or you're not anticipating that it could happen. I left the box with a new hard tyre at the end of the FP4. I had Jorge [Lorenzo] behind me. I let him pass and went slightly offline so I wasn't pushing straight out of the box. I relaxed and my position on the bike wasn't right when I made the change of direction on the descent of the corkscrew and it was enough to spit me off. It was a very ugly crash, the problem is that you don't expect it. When you expect a big impact, you prepare your body and tense before hitting the ground, but it didn't give me time. When I wanted to react, I was already flying and everything happened so fast.
It looked like you really couldn't do much about protecting your arms, was that the case?
Yes, it was exactly that. The worst thing about these crashes is that you can't prepare. When you are pushing at the limit, you know that this can happen and you notice when something isn't going as you think it should, you're already preparing for the impact. But in these cases, as I was leaving the box very relaxed and the position of the bike wasn't right, everything is much more violent and the body is not prepared. The injuries usually in these cases are the worst and it makes you angry because they're in the stupidest moments when they can happen.
Beyond the physical issues, to what extent has it affected your mood? It seemed like a good time to get another great result, seeing the pace you had.
Obviously, losing races right now makes me very angry because the level we're at now is very high and the bike's working very well. I've been working so hard for two and a half years to get the results that we're getting now and it's hard, obviously, not to be able to ride now or ride in the next race without being in the best condition and not being able to get the best results. But in the end, I think of it slightly differently. I think you have to use this as an incentive, as an extra motivation, to return like nobody has done before and to try to fight from the first day back, despite the pain, and to overcome an injury that is hard to, but if you're working hard, they're not as serious as everyone thinks.
Regardless of whether you can ride or not in Thailand and, if you can, the condition that you'll be, what is the objective from here to the end of the season?
Without a doubt, the top 10 is our goal. I think it's possible, we've been very close to Morbidelli throughout the season, even now in the second half of the season we've taken a lot and we're doing very similar results. So, our goal is to continue fighting for that top 10. The problem will be in Thailand and the amount of points we lose to Franco [Morbidelli] because I think the Yamaha will work well there and I won't be in the best condition. But coming up are circuits that I like and I think the bike will perform well at, that's why I want to ride in Thailand, shake the dust off, try to finish the race and then in Japan, Australia, Malaysia and, above all, in Valencia start competing again and try to end the season at the level we've been at throughout the majority of it.