Due to line-up sixth on the grid, the Aprilia rider instead dived into pit lane at the end of the warm-up lap, ditching his RS-GP and frantically grabbing the spare bike.

Espargaro later revealed that his number one machine had been stuck in a special fuel-saving ‘eco’ map, designed only to be used from the pits to the grid.

“They made a mistake, and they didn't remove the fuel-saving map which doesn't allow you to go over 4-5,000 RPM or more than 100k per hour," Espargaro explained.

“I tried everything, but it was not working.”

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After the unplanned bike swap, Espargaro joined the race 25th and last but already knew his chances were over.

“I changed bikes in the pits, but the second bike had the soft rear tyre [instead of the medium] and I can't ride with that tyre,” he said.

“I knew it from the beginning. The bike was just pushing the front. I was also very nervous and making a lot of mistakes, so I decided to stay out on track just to wait for a red flag or whatever. But it didn’t arrive.”

Espargaro eventually crossed the line in 16th place, five-seconds from Cal Crutchlow and the final world championship point.

It was a far cry from what he felt was possible:

“[To] win, 100%. Even with a soft tyre and the second bike I was in ’46.0 for many laps.

“So with the medium tyre and my number one bike I'm sure I could stay in 45-half, at least at the level of Jack [Miller, race winner]. So it's a shame.”

Quartararo eighth, Bagnaia crash ‘makes it worse’

Espargaro also took no consolation from the fact that world championship leader Fabio Quartararo could only manage eighth place on Sunday, while Francesco Bagnaia crashed out trying to pass the Frenchman on the last lap.

“For me, this is worse, because I lost a big opportunity. If they finished first and second, it would be worse for the championship, but I will not be that sad,” Espargaro said.

“I'm very sad because I knew today I was faster than them and it's very difficult to be faster than Pecco and Fabio. It’s very rare, for me.”

Espargaro has now dropped from 17 to 25 points behind Quartararo and remains 7 from Bagnaia.

Espargaro: ‘A huge mistake, but we are humans’

Espargaro knows as well as anyone that human errors can happen, having backed off with one lap still to go in Barcelona earlier this season.

“This is our job and it's a mistake that can happen everywhere,” he said of the Eco map issue. “It's a big mistake, a huge mistake. But we are humans, we are a team.

“Now I will go to the box, I have no strength, I don’t know how to do it, but I need to support [the team] because it's a mistake and it can happen.

“I don't care about the championship, I want to win in Thailand. It’s the only thing on my mind, try to win in Thailand."

Free Practice for the Thai Grand Prix, the first of four remaining rounds, starts on Friday.

Espargaro's team-mate Maverick Vinales finished seventh at Motegi.