Pol Espargaro has explained the reasoning behind his decision to sit out the second day of MotoGP testing in Qatar, stating he was unable to ride as he pleased due to the niggling effects of the recent surgery he had on his back.

The younger Espargaro brother had made a rapid return to action on Thursday after undergoing successful surgery to cure a reported hernia on his back, a consequence of a terrifying 220kph spill while testing at Sepang in January.

“The doctor said two months to start rehabilitation,” Espargaro revealed, referencing his recent surgery. “14 days after I’m back on a MotoGP bike. We need to be happy.” Yet the Spaniard was unable to hide his frustration on Thursday evening.

Despite ending the day just 1.2s off pace setter Maverick Viñales’ fastest time, Espargaro found the movement in his stomach and back restricted. Thus he was overcompensating with his arms. “When you do that,” he concluded, “you are killing your riding style and not riding as you know.”

KTM’s factory test rider Mika Kallio will therefore take over Espargaro’s seat for Friday, and depending on the Catalan’s recovery, Saturday too, as he did at the recent test in Thailand.

“I feel weak,” said Espargaro on Thursday evening. “I tried to manage the situation in the change of direction and on the brakes and all of these areas. I feel the middle of my stomach and back are not working properly.

“I need to supply this power with other muscles, like arms. Then when you do that you are killing your riding style and not riding as you know. I get tired so early and I’m not riding good.

“It’s a shame. I wanted to try it. I tried it. It’s the first day after missing one test and a half, and to be 1.2s off is not bad at all. Tomorrow [Friday] I think Mika’s going to do a better job than me. He’s going to ride. After tomorrow [Friday], if I feel in good shape and there is something interesting to test, I will go on the bike.”

With the season starting in two weeks’ time, Espargaro’s injury has fallen at an inconvenient time. He soon moved to allay fears that he would not be ready for the curtain raiser at this track on March, 18th.

“I mean, I started to work three days before coming here. I’ve been two weeks completely in the bed. For sure I haven’t been working as properly as a MotoGP rider needs to be working. 14 days after surgery I’m here and two more weeks I think I’ll be 100 percent.

“I needed to come here, test and feel how I was. Still I have time to recover. Now in the front I will start to train like a beast. I think I’ll arrive in good condition. This test was so tight and we need to be happy. The doctor said two months to start rehabilitation. 14 days after I’m back on a MotoGP bike. We need to be happy.”

Having missed the outing in Thailand, Espargaro was sampling a slightly refined KTM RC16 on Thursday, and had a new chassis package to sample. Issues when entering the corner that had appeared at the Sepang test were cured as a result, he said, resulting in greater confidence when braking.

“I think the guys in Thailand did a good job,” he said. “I jumped on the bike and tried new things straight away,” he said. “I just swapped straight away with the new changes and every one worked really good.

“Straight away, the bike was improving and this is not normal. This means the team, Bradley and Mika, did a good job in Thailand. The bike is able to be a bit faster. Today with this injury and my feelings, we’ve been two tenths faster than last year.

“So I think we have improved already the bike. This is good news. But what we said, if I want to improve I think Mika needs to ride and I will help in another way.

“We tested something in the chassis. Maybe it wasn’t a new chassis but it was something on the chassis. There was something helpful on the brakes, especially in the stability.

“This is where I felt more weak because in the changes of directions I had some movements and I couldn’t control them. Then I swapped for the new bike and everything went in a calm direction. This helps me super to ride so it was a good feeling.”