Motorcycling-Pol Espargaro out of ICU after Portugal crash

(Reuters) - Pol Espargaro is no longer in intensive care after suffering a crash during the season-opening Portuguese Grand Prix weekend but the road to a full recovery is long, GasGas Factory Racing Tech3 boss Herve Poncharal said on Friday.

Espargaro crashed in Friday practice in Portimao and suffered a pulmonary contusion, jaw fracture and a fractured dorsal vertebra after he was thrown off his bike and hit the barrier.

The 31-year-old did not feature in qualifying, the sprint or Sunday's race as a result of the crash. He travelled back to Barcelona last weekend and had surgery on his jaw on Tuesday.

"I have very good news about Pol, he is so full of life and really willing to come back because he was feeling a bit down the past few days being alone in the intensive care room without the possibility of getting out of bed," Poncharal said.

"When you know him it's painful. The good news is that this morning he has been transferred to a normal room, he got up and did a few steps and he's feeling good.

"Last night we were a bit worried about Pol's morale, but this morning, it is a completely new day and completely new Pol. We don't want to talk about how long he will be out, because riders can surprise us sometimes."

Poncharal said Espargaro is unable to talk and has to eat with a straw but the main problem is his back.

"To reassure everyone he will be back moving, running, walking and in a position to ride in MotoGP again, but it takes time to heal the vertebrae," he added.

"So the vertebrae have been fractured, he's in a corset at the moment, he can't move and this is what will take long. This is the worst part of the injury. The rest, I would say no drama."

The team have replaced Espargaro with German rider Jonas Folger, who is set to make his first MotoGP appearance since 2017, but he will join the team only for the third round at the Grand Prix of The Americas in mid-April.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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