Aleix Espargaro was left cursing the speed disadvantage of his GSX-RR Suzuki as he was continually outgunned in a frantic fight for top-six places in the MotoGP race at Assen.
The elder Espargaro brother, starting from the front row for the second race running, couldn't escape the attentions of two Hondas, the Tech 3 Yamahas and Andrea Dovozioso's Ducatis as he was repeatedly overhauled on Assen's two main straights.
Coming off a negative first day of free practice, Espargaro once again lauded the sweet handling of his frame but admitted Suzuki technicians must find more horsepower if they want to feature closer to the front of MotoGP proceedings.
“A very frustrating race,” said Espargaro. “I started good, I try to push, I try to follow Iannone, I felt really good with the bike, pace was good. But then Dovi overtook me on the straight, then Pedrosa. I overtook them again, and on every straight, they overtook me. It's really frustrating, I was really angry inside my helmet.
“But this is what we have, I push, I do my best, but in the middle of the race I understand that I had to relax and finish, because it was impossible. Every time I risk on the brakes, they overtook me on the straight, my brother, Smith, Pedrosa... This is the maximum we can, I just finish the race. The last part of the race I was really slow, I just finish and take points.”
One of the questions before Saturday's main event was whether Espargaro would race Bridgestone's softer compound rear tyre in the race. Opting for the softer option ahead of the 26 laps, the Catalan believed he made the right decision, saying the tyre was like 'new' at the close of the race.
“We could do one more race with the same tire, the tire was new. In the middle of the race I understood there was no point to risk a lot because I was just three corners in front, and then one or the other straight, they overtook me again. The rear tire was exactly the same the first lap as the last, no spin, was really good.”
Unlike Barcelona, where riders enter the final straight in third gear, Espargaro found it difficult to stay with other riders as first gear corners precede Assen's two longest straights. This, he said, was critical.
“For example at Barcelona, the straight, we enter in third at nearly 200 km/h, so then you can almost follow them. But here we accelerate from 60 km/h in first gear, it's impossible. It was very frustrating.
“[Other than that] The bike was fantastic. With the difference in power we had, we were less than 300 km/h, and they were 315, 317 km/h. With the difference we had, we were able to fight with the Yamahas, with the Ducati, with the Honda of Cal, it means something of the bike has to be better than them.
"It means the chassis is better, we can brake later, we can open the throttle and the bike turns really really good. So looking forward to have at least a little bit more, to be able to fight, to be one lap in front of them.”