Espargaro moved aside for Acosta’s MotoGP arrival at Tech3 in 2024

Espargaro signed to return to KTM and Tech3 for the 2023 season following two difficult years at Honda, following his first stint with the Austrian marque from 2017 to 2020.

The eight-time podium finisher’s season was immediately halted by a serious incident in the second practice session for the Portuguese Grand Prix in March, in which he suffered multiple fractures.

Espargaro was out of action until the British Grand Prix in August, with his best finish so far a sixth on the Austria sprint as he continues to get back to full fitness on the bike.

He had signed a two-year deal with Tech3, but KTM soon found itself with five riders contracted for four seats for next season after it activated Moto2 championship leader Acosta’s option to come to MotoGP in 2024.

Both Espargaro and rookie team-mate Augusto Fernandez insisted they would be staying put in recent months, with both having deals in place.

On Friday, Tech3 confirmed that Acosta will take Espargaro’s place while Fernandez will continue for a second season in MotoGP.

Espargaro is claimed to have been part of this “joint decision” to step aside to make room for Acosta.

Tech3’s press release states that Espargaro “will fill a crucial and very valued position” for KTM, but doesn’t say what.

This will likely involve testing duties and wildcard outings.

“We had an important and difficult decision to make for our GasGas team for 2024,” KTM motorsport boss Pit Bierer said.

“Augusto has made impressive first steps in MotoGP and we are totally convinced he has the speed and the intelligence to keep on progressing.

“Pedro is a very special talent who has already won so much, so quickly and 2024 will be about him learning to take the next step with the big boys in MotoGP.

“I want to thank Pol for everything he has done and all he continues to do for us.

“This guy is super-tough and super-determined and that’s why we want to count on him as an important part of our structure.

“Pol’s openness and proactiveness deserves my deepest respect. It underlines his greatness as a person that he gave us a helping hand in this situation.

“It also shows his passion for the sport and his thoughts for the future. With these pieces in place and with Herve [Poncharal], Nicolas [Goyon], and all the team and their experience we have an exciting year ahead for the GasGas brand.”

KTM had explored several options to resolve its rider logjam for 2024, which included partnering with either LCR or Gresini, and expanding into the grid slots vacated by Suzuki.

Both LCR and Gresini have contracts in place with Honda and Ducati for 2024, while Dorna Sports put a top to KTM expanding into vacant grid slots as it keeps those free for a prospective manufacturer entrant.

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