Aprilia rider Espargaro’s hopes of closing the gap to Fabio Quartararo were dashed when he desperately swapped bikes after the warm-up lap at Motegi because his RS-GP was stuck in ‘eco’ mode.

Due to start in sixth, he instead joined last and finished in 16th - he arrives for the Thailand MotoGP third in the MotoGP 2022 standings but 25 points behind Quartararo.

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“I was quite sad, not angry, about what happened on Sunday,” he said.

“I went to Tokyo, had dinner with my team, I love every single person, and they were more down than me! I am the leader. I said: 'Head up'.

“I will try to recover points here.

“We used that mistake to reanalyse everything, to try to improve. It was not as simple as it looked, the problem.

“It was a human mistake. It can happen.”

Espargaro’s misery was cemented when his two title rivals, Quartararo and Francesco Bagnaia, never contested victory in Japan.

Bagnaia crashed out and Quartararo finished eighth, while Jack Miller won, meaning Espargaro missed his chance to drastically reduce his gap to the top spot in the standings.

“I was upset, not just for the mistake, but for how the race went,” he said. “It was shocking that they were fighting for eighth place.

“25 points is not that much. The level is very high. If the leader has a bad day he can finish out of the top 10.

“I am fully positive.

“I hope we can ride on dry but, if it's wet, I was fast in Japan.”