Keith Huewen sympathetic towards Espargaro; ‘it’s bloody busy on a motorbike’

Following his dramatic early-finish misjudgement at the Catalan MotoGP, a mistake that left Aleix Espargaro in tears as he missed out on a home podium, former Grand Prix racer Keith Huewen believes it’s an error the Aprilia rider will use to his advantage going forward. 
Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia MotoGP Catalunya
Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia MotoGP Catalunya

Espargaro, who was on a tremendous streak of four consecutive MotoGP podiums, the best of any rider on the grid, looked set to make that five after another fine performance in Catalunya.

While it wasn’t the performance many anticipated as Espargaro, who was quickest for most of the weekend, proved to be no match for reigning world champion Fabio Quartararo. 

However, Espargaro was still on course for the type of result he needed in order to keep the Yamaha rider at arm’s length in the championship. 

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After battling with Jorge Martin for much of the Grand Prix, Espargaro was successful in his attempts to overhaul his fellow Spaniard for second place [turn one] before slowly inching away from the Prima Pramac Ducati rider with three laps to go.

But as the final lap began, Espargaro was seen slowing on the start-finish straight as Martin and Johann Zarco blasted past the Aprilia rider.

As Espargaro waved to the crowd thinking he had secured P2, Joan Mir was next to come through before Espargaro quickly realised the error. 

As contact was nearly made with Luca Marini, the Aprilia rider immediately hit back in order to regain fifth at turn five, however, a sure-fire second place was on the cards had Espargaro not made such a costly miscalculation. 

Although MotoGP riders have three ways of knowing how many laps there are in a race, but also how many are left, two of those can be very difficult to see. 

The first comes in the form of a rider’s pit board, but with MotoGP machines doing speeds of well over 200mph, and multiple pit boards being deployed at the same time in most circumstances, being able to see which is yours and the information provided on it can be challenging. 

Andrea Dovizioso pit board, French MotoGP, 14 May
Andrea Dovizioso pit board, French MotoGP, 14 May

The other is in the form of a rider’s dashboard, and while this is arguably the easiest option relative to keeping track of laps remaining, it’s not always that simple due to the technology current MotoGP machines have. 

So which method did Espargaro use? Well… as Keith Huewen pointed out on this week’s latest episode of the MotoGP podcast, the circuit’s official tower which displays rider information along with race distance was how Espargaro kept count of the laps remaining. 

Sympathetic towards the Aprilia rider given his unfortunate mishap, Huewen said: "The sad thing about it is because of where his [Espargaro’s) pit crew were; anybody watching TV - have you even done 200mph? That’s the first thing I’ll ask you. On a Motorbike by the way? 

"With the amount of buffering [that takes place] and on a track that’s a little bit slippery, you’re trying to read a pit board that’s static with another 20 pit boards all hanging out at the same time because it’s so close in racing nowadays - it is ridiculously difficult to read a pit board. 

"Obviously you’ve got a dashboard but again, it’s bloody busy on a motorbike. What Aleix was doing was watching the scoreboard. 

"There’s a tower and he saw the countdown which had 1 on it and he thought that was the last lap, but it goes to nought. So he thought he had that one lap to go, however, it goes to zero meaning you’re on the last lap. 

"He misinterpreted what the spectators board was saying. His pit board was further down pit lane and he had a lot going on when he was supposed to be looking at it. 

"That’s what he said anyway, and I believe Aleix because he’s not the kind of guy that would lie. He’s mortified and you can’t blame him because he went from a really good second place."

‘He’ll be right there’ - Huewen expects Espargaro to continue his MotoGP title charge

The next challenge for Espargaro will be to put the costly error behind him and show that he can continue his title challenge. 

Aleix Espargaro, Catalunya MotoGP race, 5 June
Aleix Espargaro, Catalunya MotoGP race, 5 June

Espargaro remains in a great position to do just that as his form, along with the continued improvements Aprilia are making, has been a very tough combination to beat this season. 

"He’ll be right there! I think that [mistake] will have fired him up," added Huewen. "Yes, he’s emotional, yeah it was a disaster; any normal person beats themselves up more about their own mistake rather than other people who make mistakes against them, in my view. That’s certainly how I am. That will be behind Aleix."

Download Episode 49 at the following links... 

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