Aleix Espargaro is under illusions regarding this weekend’s grand prix in Valencia, with the Catalan acknowledging any on-track participation “will be very painful.”

The elder of the two Espargaro brothers broke a bone in his left hand when contesting the leading places in the Australian Grand Prix, forcing him to miss the following week’s outing in Malaysia.

Espargaro was passed fit to contest the final race weekend of the year on Thursday just over a week after going under the knife to have a plate and eight screws inserted into the injured hand.

And the 27-year old is unsure whether he will be able to function on the bike, and have the necessary mobility to deal with a MotoGP machine around the tight and twisty Circuit Ricardo Tormo.

“The first thing is to try," he said. "Obviously with the scooter I can catch the handlebar no problem. It’s better than what I expect. But with the MotoGP – especially on the brakes – when you push again with the plate, it will be very painful. We have some ideas to do some different handlebars to avoid a big impact in that area. We’ll just try and see. I’m positive, but you never know until you try.”

On the crash that led to the injury, Espargaro explained, “It was very strange. I was very strong. It was my best race of the year. I didn’t make a good start but I overtook six riders in one lap and I felt very, very strong. I caught the leading group and didn’t have to pass everybody.

“With the soft tyre I felt strong and I knew I was going to destroy it. My plan was to try and go in front and do the same pace I did in FP4. But maybe I was a bit too anxious. I started to overtake Miller from the outside. He opened a bit the line and he didn’t realise I was on the outside. It was a bit dirty and I just lost the front.

“Obviously, it’s not nice. I miss a lot the riding, but when it’s a race like Malaysia, with the rain and it’s slippery, it’s not the one you suffer more. It wasn’t fun to watch it but you can always understand many things. You can see how the riders react with the pressure and many, many things. But I prefer to be here.”

Asked to assess his first year with Aprilia as a whole, Espargaro added, “I’m very, very happy about the performance. I think we’ve been really competitive. I think we could finish this year easily seventh place in the championship. But the most difficult thing in the championship is not to be fast, which is difficult. It’s to be stable.

“This year I’ve had crashes, injuries… I never lost a race in all my career but I lost it this year because of an intervention. I broke the engine four times. Everything happened in this championship. I finished just eight races out of 17. This is a disaster. But sincerely I’m very happy. I didn’t expect to be that fast with the Aprilia immediately.”


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