Repsol Honda's Pol Espargaro has been ruled out of Saturday and Sunday's action at the Motul TT Assen, citing injury as the reason behind his withdrawal. The number 44 has been struggling with an injury in his ribs since an FP1 crash in Germany last week, and though he managed to ride through gritted teeth at the Sachsenring, he eventually had to retire from the race.
Unfortunately, the Spaniard hasn't managed to make a full recovery and he has opted to sit out the Dutch GP after attempting to ride through the pain barrier on Friday in Assen. Ahead of FP3 on Saturday morning, our Pitlane Reporter Simon Crafar caught up with the Repsol Honda rider and his Team Manager Alberto Puig.
Pol Espargaro: "In the Sachsenring, I had such a big pain, but I was able to ride with painkillers and some inflammatories. I mean, it was very hard to ride, but it was ok. At least, I could ride. Even if I retired, I did quite a lot of laps. But here, after we put on a new tyre, I felt that something wasn’t going well. And when I pitted in, I was struggling to breathe. I have something on my ribs that doesn’t allow me to take the air. This morning I was struggling even to walk, so imagine jumping on a MotoGP. I feel very sorry for the team but I need to check this deeply because it’s not normal to have such a big pain. So yeah, I cannot."
Alberto Puig: "He is in massive pain. Yesterday in the morning’s rainy session, he felt quite good because when you race in the rain it is much smoother. FP2, the track was dry, and he had to push, he came in one time and he was completely blocked, he could not even breathe, I assume it is something in the rib. I don’t think it is just a ligament, I think it is something in the rib that’s pressing the lung because Pol is a very strong guy and he will not stop a race just because. We cannot put a guy on the bike if he cannot breathe. We all unanimously decided not to do it."
Espargaro's withdrawal means that Stefan Bradl will be the sole representative of the factory Honda side this weekend, while we look forward to welcoming Pol back to action after the summer break in Silverstone.