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Pol Espargaro feels like he has reached “the beginning of the end” in MotoGP

Pol Espargaro says he felt like he reached “the beginning of the end” in MotoGP following last weekend’s season-ending Valencia Grand Prix.

Pol Espargaro, Tech3 GASGAS Factory Racing

Pol Espargaro, Tech3 GASGAS Factory Racing

Rob Gray / Polarity Photo

The 2013 Moto2 world champion has raced full-time in MotoGP since 2014, with spells at Tech3 Yamaha, KTM, Honda and then back to KTM-backed Tech3 GasGas squad for 2023, scoring eight podiums in the process.

Serious injury in practice for the Portuguese GP ruled Espargaro out until August’s British GP, with the Spaniard scoring just 15 points as he struggled to get back to full fitness.

Read more: What compels a MotoGP rider to return to something that almost killed them?

He has been moved aside at Tech3 to make way for reigning Moto2 champion and highly anticipated rookie Pedro Acosta, and will take on a test ride role within KTM that will also see him make a maximum of six wildcards.

After remounting from a crash in Valencia to finish in the points in 14th, Espargaro admits the emotions of the day were hard to control, while noting that it feels like the end of a chapter in his career.

“So much [emotion], especially on the start every time I was putting my head up, seeing all the riders surrounding me, this tense and nervous atmosphere that sometimes you hate but sometimes you miss it so much when you are far from it for a long time,” he said when asked by Autosport if it was only goodbye for now.

“It was emotional, very difficult to control it.

“It’s the start of the finish. It’s the beginning of the end. I feel that one chapter is closing today in my life.

“It’s ok that I will race but it’s going to be something different. Of course, I will try to be competitive, I will try to recover myself from the crash because still I’m weak.

“But hopefully in the future I can do some good races like Dani is doing, prepare for them in the proper way and be competitive.”

Pol Espargaro, Tech3 GASGAS Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Pol Espargaro, Tech3 GASGAS Factory Racing

Espargaro revealed some muscles following his Portugal accident are still only at 40% effectiveness and could take well over a year to recover.

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When asked by Autosport if taking a year out to be a test rider would have been the best thing for him anyway, he replied: “Who knows. I mean, for sure I need time.

“I thought that I would recover the muscles that I have still not recovered much faster.

“But still there is some muscles that the doctor told me could take three months or one year and a half [to heal].

“So, you never know when the nerves really recover at 100%. But it’s obvious that there are muscles where I still only have like 40% of power.

“This doesn’t disturb me so much riding the bike, but as soon as there is the long race distance after the sprint race, my body gives up.

“I collapse, especially in the left corners. And I feel this after 12, 13 laps. It’s a big problem, so for sure I need some time this winter.”

Espargaro was approached by Honda to return to the Japanese manufacturer as Marc Marquez’s replacement for 2024, but elected to remain with KTM as a test rider.

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