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MotoGP Malaysia: Crash scuppers Espargaro’s top-six ambitions

A fast fall at turn six ends Aleix Espargaro's hopes of starting from row two, feels he can challenge for a top six placing on Sunday.
Aleix Espargaro accepted his disappointment at ending MotoGP qualifying eleventh was “part of the game”, as a fast crash scuppered his chances of setting a top-six time.

The elder Espargaro brother had spent free practice testing different electronic mappings and altering his throttle application in a bid to prolong rear tyre life, having looked at team-mate Maverick Viñales' data from Phillip Island.

A weekend of promising pace was the result, and the Catalan felt his showing in FP4, when he cut times on a used rear tyre, is a sign that he can fight for a top six finish in Sunday's 20-lap race.

However, a fast fall in the closing stages of Q2 was his eventual undoing, and Espargaro acknowledges he needs to produce an aggressive opening to the race to reach his ultimate goal.

“Today we try different maps,” said the 26-year old. “In FP4 we use a really old rear tyre with some different maps and it was fantastic. For 18 laps we were able to keep a 2m 1-high, which was an interesting pace and I think we are ready for the race.

“I just took the bumpy section of the corner on the inside of the track too quick and I lose the front. It's a shame because we were doing a great weekend. I think we were able to fight for the fifth, sixth place on the second row of the grid. So I'm very frustrated. P10 is really unreal because we have a really good pace this weekend. We have to be really aggressive on the first lap and try to overtake some riders that are really slower than me in terms of pace and try to do a good race.

“First and second split we were in P3. In the last two sectors with Iannone in the first run I couldn't overtake him and I lose a lot of time. Then with the second tyre I crashed. With the first and second split we are P3. In a normal lap we should finish in fourth or fifth place but I crashed. But this is part of the game. Tomorrow I will try to improve.”

Looking ahead to Sunday's race, Espargaro feels that an absorbing four or five rider fight for sixth is possible.

“I think the Hondas and Yamahas are a lot quicker than everybody. I think Iannone's bike is so fast. It's very difficult to follow him. So maybe Iannone will also be alone. Then it's going to be a big fight for sixth to tenth place. We have a really good pace and are better than Cal [Crutchlow], Pol [Espargaro], [Bradley] Smith so I think we can do a good race tomorrow.”

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Aleix Espargaro, Malaysian MotoGP 2015
Pol Espargaro, German MotoGP race 2017
Crutchlow, German MotoGP race 2017
Smith, German MotoGP race 2017
Smith, German MotoGP race 2017
Smith, German MotoGP race 2017
Pol Espargaro, Kallio, Zarco German MotoGP race 2017
Pol Espargaro, Kallio, Zarco German MotoGP race 2017
Pol Espargaro, Iannone German MotoGP race 2017
Dovizioso, Lorenzo, Aleix Espargaro German MotoGP race 2017
Smith, German MotoGP race 2017
Smith, Redding German MotoGP race 2017
Kallio, Iannone German MotoGP race 2017
Smith, Lowes German MotoGP race 2017
Pol Espargaro, German MotoGP race 2017
Miller, Iannone German MotoGP race 2017
Smith, German MotoGP race 2017
Smith, German MotoGP race 2017

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