Red Bull KTM’s Pol Espargaro will miss the three-day Thailand MotoGP test this week after undergoing surgery having suffered a spine injury in a crash at the Malaysia test last month.

The Spaniard suffered a hernia in his L4 vertebrae in 250km/h fall during the second day of the first official MotoGP test at Sepang ahead of the 2018 season. Despite hoping to use the two-week break in between tests to recover from the injury, Espargaro has required surgery in Barcelona to correct the damage and will now miss the test in Thailand for KTM.

“Unfortunately Pol Espargaro can‘t ride his KTM RC16 at the MotoGP Thai test due to hernia in L4, probably caused at crash two weeks ago at Sepang. He has already had successful surgery Monday night at Dexeus BCN, more info soon,” KTM tweeted.

MotoGP heads to the Buriram International Circuit for a three-day test on February 16th-18th before returning to the Thai track on October 5th-7th as it hosts round 15 of the 2018 world championship.

Speaking after his Sepang fall, having been forced to sit out the final day of the first test, Espargaro says he hit the wall at Turn 4 at 250km/h and initially thought he had only suffered an injury to his ankle ligaments.

“It was really close, I hit it around more than 250km/h and nothing really big happened - no broken bones, just pain everywhere especially in my feet because I did many flips, front and the back,” Espargaro said in Sepang. “But even if I cannot ride, I'm lucky to be here and to be watching with the team.”

Espargaro was replaced by KTM test rider Mika Kallio for the final day of the Sepang test and it’s expected that the Finnish rider will take Espargaro’s place for the Thailand test alongside Bradley Smith for the Austrian squad.



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