After experiencing a “horrible day” that included engine and continued electronics problems, Aleix Espargaro was critical of Michelin's handling of Loris Baz's rear tyre failure, which resulted in a lucky escape for the Avintia Ducati rider.
The French firm was forced to withdraw its softer option compound when Baz's rear tyre appeared to explode along Sepang's lengthy front straight. The Frenchman was more than fortunate to dust himself down after falling at 180mph.
The session was subsequently stopped but before the soft compound was withdrawn the track was re-opened. In Espargaro's words, taking time to understand the rare occurrence, which had shades of Shinya Nakano's rear Bridgestone failure at Mugello in 2004, should have been compulsory.
Thus the re-opening of the track considerably angered the Ecstar Suzuki rider, who called on the MotoGP safety commission to take charge in such situations.
I saw what happened. I'm not really happy with how they managed because even Loris I think he doesn't realise how lucky he was. I talked to him in the Clinica [Mobile] and he was so happy. But he didn't realise. The most difficult thing after one crash like this what happened. It was impossible but it happened. We need to understand why.
“This is racing and this can happen but I didn't like that before they analysed they opened the light on the screen and everyone was out again. It can't be like this because it's a very dangerous situation. One tyre can explode, one engine can explode. Ok. But for me, before going out again the safety commission needs to be stronger.
“Michelin came to my garage and they say, 'No problem. You can go out and we're working on it.' I was really angry and I say to Michelin that I didn't agree. For me they were doing really bad.
“Then I saw the green light. I was really angry so actually Tom [O'Kane] said to me, 'Don't worry. Take the leathers off.' Then they put the red light again. I understood when they said that the Ducati [of Baz] was no problem. It was the tyre's fault. Then they said to us to use the hard tyre with more pressure. It was clear. The soft tyre was too hot and then it exploded. For me we need to be a little bit more careful.”
While the new Suzuki motor displayed plenty of potential on Monday, Espargaro suffered an engine failure early in the day. With another version of the new spec unavailable, the 26-year old was forced to continue on the '15 version.
“It was basically a horrible day. I mean everything happened today; we had electronics issues, engine problems. I was the only rider on the grid that was not able to use the soft tyre in any laps. It doesn't matter, this can happen. We have one day more. In the afternoon I was able to not be really, really slow with the harder tyre. I did a respectable time.
“But it was a shame because with the new engine I felt really good. We had a good setting and with the soft tyre in the morning if we finished three corners more we would have got a really nice time. But unfortunately we broke the engine. It's better to go to sleep.”
Stating that Suzuki's new chassis has added agility at the cost of stability, especially in faster corners, Espargaro was able to contrast the speed of Suzuki's new GSX-RR engine with the '15 model.
“Yesterday when we use the new engine I felt improvement. It was a good improvement. Obviously the top speed we gained something. Today when I broke the engine and had to run the whole day with last year's engine the difference was higher than what I expected. It's really more slow last year's engine. At least I'm positive because this year's engine is faster.”