A technical oversight denied Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro points at Motegi but the Thai Grand Prix brings time to reset and ‘recover’.
The sighting lap ‘eco' map was left on for his RS-GP as round 16’s race action got underway last weekend, with the Spaniard diving into the pits for his second bike as the lights prepared. Limited tyre availability also played its part, with Espargaro forced to race without the preferred option Michelin as he joined the back of the pack.
“I was quite sad,” the 32-year-old admitted from Buriram on Thursday. "Not angry at all, but really sad about what happened on Sunday after the race, but after, I went to Tokyo and on Monday I had dinner with my team, everybody. I love every single person on my team, and they were even more down than me. I’m the leader of this team and I said to them, ‘Head up, it’s a mistake, everybody can make mistakes’.
“We discussed internally. Even if we don’t talk about the problem we had, it will not happen anymore, 100 per cent. But we used that mistake to re-analyse everything, to try to make no mistakes, to try to improve all the procedures, and to see where we can improve. Again, all my team, all the engineers, it was not as simple as it looks, the problem, so all my team was very down and I’ll try to say to them, ‘It’s a human mistake, it can happen, and this is racing,’ so I totally forget and I’m fully positive for the next weekend.
“Actually, I was upset after the race, not just for the mistake but also for how the race went, because it’s very strange that first and second in the championship were fighting for eight place. Fabio [Quartararo] and Pecco [Bagnaia] are very, very fast at every circuit and it was quite shocking that they were fighting for eighth place, so it was a good opportunity to maybe recover some points, but you never know. Maybe if we didn’t have the mistake, where I was in the race, you cannot really understand.
“Now there is a new scenario for us, and there is always positive things when new things are coming, so I will try to recover the points here.”
With the Chang International Circuit another reintroduction after the pandemic revisions, Buriram brings with it an almost clean slate. Two years away and only two years of experience for the riders who had visited in 2018 and 19, Espargaro is one of the old guard hoping to use that to his advantage this weekend.
“It’s funny because I cannot answer you about whether or not I like this layout,” Espargaro said on the 4.5km track. “I don’t really remember ’19, but anyway, ’19, I didn’t like any track, because this year’s bike is another story.
“I hope we can ride in the dry, but in any case, if it’s wet, I was quite fast in Japan. I was surprisingly fast in the rain, so even if it’s wet, it can also be a good opportunity because when there is a race in the rain, normally more strange things can happen, and we need it!
“25 points is not that much,” he said of the championship battle. “The level of MotoGP now is very high so, in the past, the leader of the championship, in a very bad day, he could finish second, third, fourth, but now if you have a bad day, you can finish outside the top ten. So, everything is open and I still believe in my options.”