KTM: Finding Pol Espargaro injury stand-in for Silverstone is tough – MotoGP

The KTM MotoGP team admits it will “have a problem” replacing Pol Espargaro for the British Grand Prix should he not recover from injury in time.

Espargaro suffered a collarbone fracture in a warm-up crash at Brno, the incident initially leaving him unable to feel his arms or legs.

With KTM’s third rider Mika Kallio also out with injury after damaging his knee ligaments at the Sachsenring, Espargaro’s RC16 was left vacant for both the Brno race and this weekend’s Red Bull Ring event.

The MotoGP regulations say that, in case of rider injury or force majeure, “teams must make every reasonable effort to provide a qualified substitute rider to fulfil their entry obligations within 10 days of withdrawal”.

While Espargaro has now left hospital, it is not clear whether he will be fit to compete at Silverstone in two weeks’ time.

KTM’s head of sport Pit Beirer confirmed KTM was already exploring potential replacements, but added: “That is definitely not an easy question with a good answer.

“First of all we hope that Pol is getting fit. If not, we have a problem.

“There are not many guys sitting at home on the couch and waiting for a call from KTM to ride.

“You see now the last guy [in MotoGP] is riding in the same second as the first guy. For sure we could find guys to ride the bike, many guys would be happy to do it.

“But if you send the guy out, three-four seconds slower, maybe five, I don’t know, I think it is even a safety problem for the other riders on the track.

“So we really struggle, I can tell you, because the guy who we need to replace a rider on this grid is not there at the moment so we have to wait and see and still look through some lists.

“If somebody has some really smart idea, send me an email.”

Beirer said KTM has already reached out to Jonas Folger, who was a podium finisher in his rookie campaign in 2017 but is sitting out this year due to illness.

“We called him, but of course his decision was not to race this year, and this didn’t change, so we didn’t even expect any different answer.

“Other than this, there is really nobody sitting home who could really race there. I think Jonas, he could jump in and be on that level, all the other guys I don’t think so.”

Folger has been strongly linked to a Yamaha testing role, but Beirer did not rule out signing him in a similar capacity as KTM looks to add another test rider alongside the recovering Kallio.

Retiring Honda rider Dani Pedrosa and current KTM racer Bradley Smith, who will be replaced by Johann Zarco in 2019, are also in the frame for the vacancy.

Beirer said of Pedrosa: “For sure he would be a very interesting rider and I can tell you we are talking to him.”

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