MotoGP Motegi: ‘We lost the race on the grid’ - Espargaro

| | MotoGP
Picture: GeeBee Images

Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro finished the Japanese Grand Prix pointless after a disappointing Sunday at Motegi.

Espargaro failed to make gains on his title challenge at round 16 after a technical issue on his RS-GP saw him pull in for his second bike at the end of the warm-up lap. The team later disclosing it had failed to switch out the fuel-saving ‘eco’ map used on the sighting lap.

Returning to the action in 25th, the 32-year-old made advances to the fringes of the points before completing the 24-lap race six seconds adrift of Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow.

“I’m very disappointed, today was a shame,” Espargaro admitted. “We made a mistake and the electronics guys forget to remove the eco map for fuel saving, there was nothing I could do. The bike was very slow onto the sighting lap, I went into the pits to change the bike but the second bike didn’t have the right tyre so it was very difficult.

“I knew from the beginning that the bike wasn’t going, so I knew there was a mistake and on the second bike I tried everything, but starting from the pits, it’s impossible.

“I also didn’t have the right rear because we had no more mediums. I tried to stay on track in case there was a red flag, but we lost the race on the grid.”

With rivals Fabio Quartararo and Pecco Bagnaia also failing to set the world alight - the latter with a last lap crash from the wheels of the former in the battle for eighth - his P16 finish was less of a disaster than initially feared but with promising pace and a sixth-place grid start, the Spaniard was confident he could have dominated if things had gone in his favour.

“They didn’t achieve a lot of points but I’m even more disappointed because today I could have beaten them,” he said of his rivals. “So it’s a shame to lose the opportunity but this is racing.

“If they finished first and second, it would be worse for the championship, but I will not be that sad. I’m very sad because I knew today I was faster than them and it’s very difficult to be faster than Pecco and Fabio. It’s very rare, for me.”