Aleix Espargaro: "The race was a nightmare"

Aleix Espargaro was tipped as a Qatar pre-race favourite by the likes of Marc Marquez but his grand prix turned into a 'nightmare'.

Aleix Espargaro, MotoGP race, Qatar MotoGP, 10 March
Aleix Espargaro, MotoGP race, Qatar MotoGP, 10 March

After a storming end to the Saturday Sprint, Aleix Espargaro went to sleep dreaming of victory in the season-opening Qatar MotoGP.

Instead, it turned into a 'nightmare', as the factory Aprilia rider struggled for rear grip throughout the 21 laps and limped home in eighth place.

“Yesterday when I went to sleep, I was sure that I could win the race. But it was a nightmare. I was extremely slow," said the Spaniard, third in the Saturday race.

"Already on the warm-up lap to the grid I felt that I had no grip at all. Something went wrong with the rear tyre. 

“We have to try to understand what happened with Michelin and the team.

"Obviously with the pace we showed in the last part of the Sprint I was aiming for a completely different race. 

"But there was nothing I could do. It was a nightmare all race."

Espargaro faded from second to ninth on the opening lap, then finally gained a place when he passed rookie Pedro Acosta in the closing stages.

The 34-year-old leaves the opening round sixth in the world championship.

“We showed we have a good bike. I've been fast all weekend. But I'm a little bit angry because we lost a good opportunity. 

"In any case, I am still leaving Qatar knowing that I have a competitive bike and the championship has only just begun."

Team-mate Maverick Vinales was two places and two seconds behind Espargaro.

"Compared with yesterday, the feeling improved significantly,” claimed Vinales, ninth in the Sprint but then quickest in the daylight warm-up session.

“We still need to figure out which points we need to improve on – which are just small details anyway – but we still need to identify the right way forward.

“It was an interesting weekend that allowed us to collect important information anyway. I spent the race today behind various riders and various bikes, which let me identify our strong points and our weaknesses.

“One of the points to improve is undoubtedly managing rear tyre wear, which keeps me from being as fast as I’d like to be at the moment."

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