Injured Moto2 world champion Pol Espargaro failed to reach the end of his first MotoGP race after a gearbox issue in Sunday's season-opening Qatar Grand Prix.

The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider had returned to action after undergoing surgery following a fractured collarbone, due to a downshift mistake with the team's new seamless gearbox, at the same Losail circuit in testing earlier this month.

Qualifying twelfth, the young Spaniard was up to eighth when the gearbox issue materialised with just four laps to go.

"I really can't say that luck helped us today, even if we deserved it after this weekend. We didn't start with the best of terms as I am still not completely healed from my shoulder injury. Then I crashed on Friday and my confidence fell slightly," said Espargaro.

"The good news was that my injury didn't worsen because of this, and the team did a great job helping me to raise my confidence. With regards to today, it's unfortunate that this happened as I could have finished inside the top six on my MotoGP debut. I am still happy with my performance because the results all weekend were competitive

"Before my problems started, I was just eight seconds behind the leader and catching Dovizioso [fifth] and Aleix [fourth], which was more than I could have hoped for. Now I will rest and prepare for the next race in Austin as I definitely want to be at my 100% there".

Team-mate Bradley Smith fell from fifth place at almost the exact same time as Espargaro's retirement.



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