Pol Espargaro ‘conscious, neurologically fine’ but has back and lung injuries

Pol Espargaro has fractured his jaw, fractured his dorsal vertebrae, and suffered a pulmonary contusion (a lung injury) after crashing in Friday practice at the Portuguese MotoGP.
Miguel Oliveira and Pol Espargaro crash, Portuguese MotoGP. 24 March
Miguel Oliveira and Pol Espargaro crash, Portuguese MotoGP. 24 March

UPDATE: An airfence has been added to the trackside barriers at the scene of Espargaro's Turn 10 accident, ahead of Saturday's action. Meanwhile, Tech3 say Espargaro fell after being 'caught out by a cool rear tyre'.

Espargaro brought out the red flags after falling at turn 10 in this afternoon’s second practice session at Portimao.

It is not yet clear if the GASGAS rider was injured while bouncing through the gravel trap, being hit by his bike and/or contact with the trackside barrier.

Espargaro suffered heavy impacts to his chest and back, but is conscious and can move his legs and arms. 

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Before the extent of the injuries were discovered, MotoGP Medical Director Angel Charte said: "Pol Espargaro has had a high-intensity crash and suffered multiple traumas. To determine the extent, he will need to be evaluated via further examination at Faro hospital, specifically his spine."

Espargaro did not lose consciousness and is described as 'perfectly fine neurologically'.

"His oxygen levels are good, but he has quite a significant lung contusion, the extent of which we will need to confirm with CT scans and MRIs at Faro hospital," Charte added.

"He has suffered severe spinal trauma and a contusion to his lungs which we will have to monitor closely. Although I think he will recover well, we need to conduct the appropriate tests to determine the extent of his injuries

"He is conscious, alert, and responding well. He is slightly sedated due to the painkillers we have administered. He can move his feet, legs, and arms perfectly well, so there is no reason to fear any permanent spinal injury."

Espargaro's Tech3 team-mate and MotoGP rookie Augusto Fernandez said: "I think he’s out of big danger. He’s OK so far. Let’s hope for the best for him and that he can recover well."

On the accident itself, the reigning Moto2 champion added: "It was a very strange and big one. It’s not a normal part [of the track] to crash, quite early in the corner.

"But it’s difficult because you arrive with the MotoGP and we brake [over the crest] so all the bike unloads and it’s easy to lose the rear. Maybe a cold tyre, I don’t know. It’s a tricky point there."

Aleix Espargaro: 'Right now I am worried'

Pol's older brother Aleix, who had been leading the timesheets for Aprilia at the time of the accident, was also waiting to hear the exact diagnosis when he spoke to the media on Friday evening.

"I still don’t know anything about Pol. My wife is there with Carlota [Pol's wife] and I spoke with Chatre. It is really good to have him here and he calmed me a lot. Hopefully, I can receive some news," he said.

Aleix, who had to go back out after Pol had been taken to the Medical Centre to claim a top ten place for direct access into Qualifying 2, added: "[Being in MotoGP with my brother] is very beautiful, we travel around the world, it is good, it is nice but there is also a difficult and bad part and this is it.

"Pol unfortunately has had a lot of injuries in his career and I have been by his side. You have to get used to it and you have to be professional. There are a lot of people working around me. You have to go and try."

Asked if he was angry at the absense of an airfence in the area of the accident, Aleix replied: "No, I am not angry at all. I want to talk with Pol and see if he is OK. We will have time to blame somebody and put a fence but right now I am worried."

Other riders, including reigning world champion Francesco Bagnaia, questioned if the size of the gravel, a topic long debated at Portimao, was also a factor.

"Without this gravel, it was not as bad. Because it was a bad crash, but... when Pol arrived on the gravel, he started to accelerate. And I think the airfence there is either small or not there at all."

Eight-time world champion Marc Marquez said: "It’s a point where they need to put an airfence tomorrow, not next year."

RNF Aprilia riders Raul Fernandez and Miguel Oliveira fell at a similar time to Espargaro but were not involved in his accident.

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