BRADLEY Smith has been handed a three-place grid penalty for causing a collision with Aprilia teammate Aleix Espargaro in the Catalunya MotoGP.

The 28-year-old, from Forest Hill, was making his third of five wildcard appearances in Barcelona today.

Smith made a strong start from the back row, climbing to 18th, but crashed into Espargaro at turn ten on the first lap.

The incident put Aprilia’s test-rider immediately out of the race, while his Spanish teammate was helped off his bike with a knee injury after making it back to the pitlane.

Smith is likely to serve his penalty at his next wildcard appearance at the Czech MotoGP on August 4, but he may be called upon to replace Espargaro before then.

The Oxfordshire rider apologised for causing the incident.

He said: “I’m sorry about what happened, even more so because Aleix was involved.

“Unfortunately, in that braking section the situation was a bit chaotic, as often happens during the first laps.

“I hope he will have a quick recovery.”

Massimo Rivola, CEO of Aprilia Racing, added: “This is undoubtedly a difficult time for us and Aleix’s injury is the most pressing issue right now.

“Even more disappointing is the fact that it was Bradley who caused the crash, who is working on developing the bike.

“These episodes should not occur.”