The Aprilia rider set what would be the second fastest lap of the race, on lap 8 of 27, despite still in tyre-saving mode and held a close sixth place during the middle stages.

But when the time came to push in the crucial closing laps, Espargaro was held back by excessive traction control. Switching maps had no impact and he faded to a frustrated ninth, 4.5s from race winner Alex Rins.

“I was fast. I did the second-fastest lap of the race. But in the last eight laps the bike didn't accelerate,” Espargaro explained.

“I had a lot of traction control, the bike was cutting a lot of power for some reason and didn't go forward.

“I changed the maps, I tried everything, but it was very frustrating because there was nothing I could do.”

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Espargaro added: “Yesterday, with the [data] from Michelin, I think I was the second [best] rider for the least tyre [consumption] in FP4.

“I tried from the beginning of the race to save some tyre, braking more aggressive to use more the front [than the rear]. But I don't know what happened at the end.

“I was very, very angry, frustrated because I had the speed to fight for victory today.

“The race at the beginning was quite slow. It was quite easy for me to stay in the group. But then in the last part, the others dropped 4-5 tenths and we dropped maybe 1.2-1.3s.

“I was very angry inside of the helmet because there was nothing I could do."

Team-mate Maverick Vinales dropped from 11th to 17th in the closing stages and ended up "slower than the Moto2 guys".

"I think Maverick had exactly the same problem as me,” Espargaro said.

Espargaro: ‘We are not at the level to fight for this title’

The electronic issue came directly after the ‘eco-mode’ mistake on the grid at Motegi and a lack of pace on the special harder construction tyres throughout the Buriram weekend.

“I think that on the last three races we prove that we are not together as a team,” Espargaro said. “We are not at the level to fight for this title.

“We conceded many, many points, because in the last three races we scored just [5 and 7] points [out of a possible 75] which is ridiculous if you want to fight for the title. This is the problem.”

While Espargaro’s 12 points (including one non-score) from the last three rounds is a miserable tally for a title contender, reigning champion Quartararo has managed just 8 (two non-scores) and even Bagnaia only 32 (one non-score).

“We made many mistakes in the last three races. And it's a shame today again," Espargaro continued,

“I said many times, the most difficult thing [in MotoGP] is to have the speed to be fast. I had it. I did a good start. I overtook Fabio in corner two. I knew I had to be aggressive today and I was in the leading group, just waiting, waiting, waiting, but then nothing I could do at the end.

“It’s frustrating after the hard job we did in the first 70% of the championship, to finish outside of the top five in these last three races. It hurts me.

“[The title] is still possible. I'm really proud about my championship. I mean, two races to go and Aleix and Aprilia are still in the game for the title.

“But with Pecco and Ducati’s form and a one-race advantage against me, it's going to be very tricky.”

While Espargaro lost big points to Bagnaia in Australia, Quartararo’s crash means the Yamaha rider is now a reduced 13 points ahead of him, in second place.

‘3-4 months ago everybody said Aprilia was at the level of Ducati’

Having only claimed one podium before this year, the RS-GP's title challenge has been the surprise of the season. But Espargaro feels the flyaway races have underlined the supremacy of Ducati.

“It's funny because not too long ago, 3-4 months ago, everybody was saying that the Aprilia was the ‘new Ferrari’. And I knew the bike that I have. It’s a good bike, we improved the bike a lot, but it's not at the level of the best bike on the grid at all.

“They [Ducati] made many mistakes in the beginning of the year and they paid for it, but today the result of the Ducatis - I don't want to use any names, but it's ridiculous. Doesn't matter who rides this bike, they are in the top six.”

Bagnaia, who at one stage was 91 points behind Quartararo, has taken four wins and seven podiums from the last eight events.

Quartararo and Espargaro have taken just one podium each during the same period.