That seemed to be the conclusion of Aprilia’s pole sitter Aleix Espargaro and Yamaha’s former world champion Fabio Quartararo, after watching the heroics of KTM riders Brad Binder and Jack Miller during the Spanish MotoGP weekend.

While both orange machines finished on the podium in both races, including a Sprint victory for Binder, Espargaro crashed from fifth in the Sprint, a position he then held onto in the main race.

“I'm very disappointed because once again… I felt that I have one of the best bikes out there,” Espargaro said.

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“I love my bike, sincerely, it's fantastic. I can be super fast. But once I'm in the mix in a race, and in the end that’s where it counts, I cannot do my lines, I cannot race as I want.

“I lose the front all the time when I get closer [to the bikes ahead]. The bike is not turning, the front tyre is a disaster.

“We have to understand if it is the aerodynamics, plus temperature or pressure of the front tyre. But once Zarco crashed in front of me and I had a little bit of cool air, I did my fastest lap, almost the fastest lap of the race.

“But it's not about this. It's about racing, overtaking and my bike today doesn't allow me to do this.”

Espargaro: ‘Congratulations to KTM, but my bike is better’

The Spaniard added: “I want to say congratulations to KTM, the job they did is amazing. The riders, Jack, Brad and the whole team, it’s crazy what they're doing.

“But my feeling is that my bike is better than them.

“So this is why I'm even more frustrated because their bike allowed them to be really aggressive in the race.

“They understand better the concept of the tyre, the way of racing of 2023 and they did better than us.

“My bike is really good when I'm alone, but it's not about this.”

Quartararo: ‘I've never seen someone riding a GP bike like that’

Quartararo, who finished twelfth and tenth after also struggling to overtake, echoed many of Espargaro’s comments.

“I was impressed by Brad in the Sprint race. I've never seen someone riding a GP bike like that,” the Frenchman said of Binder’s sideways braking style.

“It’s already his riding style, but to [have a bike] that allows you to make this kind of movement… it’s my dream you know!

“We have several difficulties that we have to figure out: One is the time attack and the other is following people. Because on the pace we are fast.”

Just eleventh in the world championship heading into his home grand prix at Le Mans next weekend, Quartararo emphasised that this year’s engine boost is not enough.

“We have more [engine] power and people think ‘yeah, it's good’ but it's not good because we have to use two small wings compared with two massive wings [on other bikes],” he said.

“If we [have more] aero, we are 4ks slower and are exactly back as before, or worse [for top speed]. So we need much more power to be able to use much more downforce and be able to fight.

“This is one thing but also being able to overtake and stay close, this is our main problem right now.”


Aleix: Starts a ‘big problem’

Given their issues fighting in the pack, a strong qualifying and race start is vital for the likes of Espargaro and Quartararo.

While Quartararo struggled for a flying lap at Jerez, he was at least quick off the line from 16th. But Espargaro had the opposite issue.

Having ticked the first box with pole position, he lost out to both KTMs - starting second (Jack Miller) and fourth (Brad Binder) - in all four race starts, counting the red flags.

“Yes, it’s a big, big problem,” acknowledged Espargaro. “Pole position is the best I can do in practice, but even doing all four starts from first I lost places.

“I tried to start with both feet on the ground, one foot on the ground. We increased the power in 2nd gear [for Sunday] and it was even worse than [Saturday] because the bike wheelied.”

Espargaro, like team-mate Maverick Vinales, duly worked on practice starts and reducing the ‘stress’ on the front tyre, to aid overtaking, during the Monday test.

“The starts are part of our sport, they were not so important in the past, [but] it's amazing how important they are [now],” Espargaro said.

“Everybody knows that you cannot overtake. I had the same pace as Bagnaia more or less, so I'm sure that if I started P1 or P2, I could fight for the victory or second place.”

In terms of the close-combat issues he had encountered, Espargaro and Aprilia, “Tried many things, trying always to remove a little bit of weight from the front tyre.

“I know it's not the same to ride alone as in the race, but as I cannot simulate the race, I am trying to remove a little bit of pressure on the front tyre.

“I've been the fastest of the whole weekend on used tyres, but when you are alone on Monday, it's difficult to understand the performance.”

Quartararo was third and Espargaro seventh during the Monday test.