Aleix Espargaro believes the Open class electronics are not good enough to reach his goal of a MotoGP podium this season.
The Forward Yamaha rider suffered a visible engine deficit while battling the Factory class machines on his way to seventh position, just half a second from fifth place but 26 seconds from the rostrum, in Sunday's Spanish MotoGP.
However the Spanish insists it is the less sophisticated standard electronics, compulsory for the new Open class, that present one of the greatest obstacles in his rostrum quest.
“We need to forget about the podium because during a race our electronics are not the same as the Factory guys and I slide a lot. This was my limit and I can't push more,” Espargaro declared. “It's not only top speed and acceleration but also electronics. I know that we will arrive at a couple of tracks where we can be close, but it will be really difficult to stay on the podium.”
A more sophisticated version of the Open class ECU was developed with input from Ducati during the winter, but proved too complex for the other teams. Ducati ultimately continued in the Factory class, with Open benefits, while the remaining Open teams kept the earlier software version.
The Open teams (and Ducati) have more fuel, engine changes, a softer rear tyre and greater testing opportunities to help them compete with the Factory class Hondas and Yamahas.
Espargaro claimed a MotoGP best of fourth place in the Qatar season-opener, finishing eight seconds from the final podium position at a circuit with a 1km home straight. That left the Spaniard confident of a top three challenge at the slower venues, such as Jerez, only for the full impact of the tyre-saving advanced Factory electronics to be revealed.
After dive-bombing the likes of Andrea Dovizioso, Alvaro Bautista and Bradley Smith on the brakes at Jerez, Espargaro aims to make the most of his late-braking skills at the stop-go Le Mans circuit on May 16-18.
“Le Mans is a really good track for me because I like to brake really hard and go deep with the brakes and there are a lot of corners where we can do that,” he said. “This bike though isn't the best at doing that, I think that the Ducati and Honda are better, but we're better when you release the brake and have better speed in the corner.”
Espargaro, untroubled by his fellow Open class riders since the start of pre-season testing, is currently seventh in the world championship.
MotoGP will have a single ECU system, hardware and software, and new tyre supplier from 2016.