An excellent weekend’s work for Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro disintegrated on Sunday after the home hero rolled off the gas one lap too early in Barcelona.
While Catalan GP victor Fabio Quartararo was in a league of his own in the 24-lap race, Espargaro was firmly in control of a podium at his beloved Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, which would have seen him rival Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso for six in a row.
Having topped the majority of the sessions, and scored a record-breaking pole position at the track just three kms from where he grew up, the Aprilia captain fluctuated between second and third across the race as he battled with the Ducati of Jorge Martin. The 32-year-old was back in the runners up spot for the final four laps before an error across the line for the final revolution left him facing a fifth place finish.
“My board was the first out of the corner, I had no time to watch the laps,” a dejected Espargaro explained on Sunday evening. “Some laps I had not the time to watch the laps and the gap with Martin. I was pushing to the limit so I just watch the gap with Martin plus 0.6.
“Then to watch the lap I watch the tower and saw L1 so I did one lap and then I didn’t remember that here in Barcelona last lap is number zero not one, and I closed the gas on the straight.
“So I’m very sorry for my team because, I know I don’t have the speed of Fabio to win but if I want to beat him in the championship, I cannot do these mistakes. Today I lose nine points so I’m very sorry.”
The Spaniard was also regretting his choice to play it safe at the beginning of the race, believing he could have stopped Quartararo from disappearing at quite such a rate if he’d put up an earlier fight.
“Yesterday between Michelin and my team, everybody put a lot of worry into my body saying that I use a lot the tyre, that I had to be gentle on the first laps and I was too gentle, sincerely,” Espargaro admitted. “Because at the end of the race when I overtook Martin I had rubber enough to put ’41-half and go away but is impossible.
“I think Fabio was not faster than me but he was smarter. He was able to push at the beginning and then it’s impossible to recover two seconds or 2.5 seconds to Fabio but I think I could go with him at the beginning. But anyway, it’s too late.”