Ecstar Suzuki's Aleix Espargaro has expressed his anger in the wake of Scott Redding's tyre incident during practice for the Argentina MotoGP.
Redding pulled off in final practice after the top layer of his rear tyre detached at high speed, damaging the rear of his Pramac Ducati. Fortunately the Englishman kept control, despite being struck in the back by the debris.
But Espargaro was annoyed that the track then reopened so quickly, given the obvious signs of a tyre issue, and the session was duly stopped again to investigate what happened.
“We were working hard to try to improve the tyre and we can have problems, this is no problem, but what I didn't like is that after the incident with Scott [Redding] – and we were very lucky once again because we were really lucky with Loris [Baz] accident in Malaysia – so with Scott we were very lucky again,” he said.
“After two minutes, again they opened the track and I was very angry about this because this is not a joke and I was very frustrated for this.
“I hope Michelin will improve the tyres and I hope the problem will not repeat. I never had a problem with the rear tyre. Last week in Argentina, Maverick had a couple of cuts on one tyre and also [Tito] Rabat I think, but then the biggest problems were always for the Ducatis because they have a little bit more power, so they wear more the rear tyre,” added the Spaniard.
“I think it is not Ducati's fault, for me now they are number one in the paddock, they have the best bike, the best engine, so it is not Ducati's fault.
“They were the smartest ones this last year, so I think it is something Michelin has to improve.”
Michelin initially withdrew both planned rear tyres, introducing a new rear made of a harder construction for Sunday's race. However wet weather on Sunday morning ultimately saw the original tyres reinstated, in combination with a mid-race bike change.
Espargaro came off moments after Cal Crutchlow went down at turn one during the race and held his hands up, admitting he had made a mistake.
“It was a pity because we made good steps in Argentina, we were quite competitive all weekend and then I was too hot at the beginning of the race and I made a mistake,” he said.
“The important thing is we are improving a little bit the bike and I hope here we can make one good step. I'm okay, I have a little pain in my left arm but I'm okay.
“Not really sure [if hit a damp patch]. It was the beginning of the corner but maybe it was a very small damp patch because I was not fast, I was quite slow so maybe the track was really tricky,” he added.
“I made a very small mistake, it was a crash so yeah, maybe.”
Assessing his prospects for this weekend's third round of the MotoGP World Championship in Austin, Espargaro said he was feeling motivated to achieve a strong result on the GSX-RR.
“I'm really motivated because last year we were really competitive on the race day with the race tyre, we finished in third place on the fastest laps,” he said.
“Last year we suffered also in the long straights but here we have a lot more power and I think we can do a good weekend. I can't wait to ride the bike tomorrow.”