Aleix Espargaro’s eventful Qatar MotoGP weekend came to an early conclusion when the factory Aprilia rider retired on lap 6 of the grand prix.
The Spaniard began the race from just 16th on the grid, as part of a penalty for slapping Franco Morbidelli in practice and was also nursing a fracture in his lower left leg after being taken out by Miguel Oliveira in the Sprint.
Having passed a medical check, Espargaro returned to action on Sunday, but the swelling meant he struggled to change gear and the #41 retired from outside of the points.
“I have a fracture, but the problem is not really the fracture. The problem is that everything is full of blood, so it was like an [arm pump] feeling,” Espargaro said.
“[In warm-up] it was impossible to ride due to the pain. I had a lot of [pain-killing] drugs for the race, but I had no power in the foot.
“I wanted to give it a go today, but I lost feeling and strength so I was unable to work the gear shifter.
“It’s a shame because I was very strong from Friday here and yesterday when Miguel hit me super hard on the leg, immediately I felt something broke.
“So I will try again in Valencia, if I can.”
On the other side of the garage, team-mate Maverick Vinales fought his way from ninth to finish a fraction from Luca Marini and a place on the podium.
“The balance we found this weekend on the RS-GP is, in my opinion, the best of 2023,” Vinales said. “That is the truly positive thing. The path has been mapped out and we are well aware of the technical direction that needs to be followed.
“Having to recover ground makes everything harder and keeps me from achieving the results which – in terms of pace – we deserve. [So] improving qualifying and the start must be our mantra from now until next season.”
Espargaro heads to the final round holding sixth in the world championship, just 6 points behind Johann Zarco.
Vinales is eighth but now only 8 points from Espargaro.
Keyword: Qatar MotoGP: Aleix Espargaro: “Everything was full of blood”