Aleix Espargaro reveals secrets of mastering the low grip Barcelona circuit

“This morning when I woke up, the first thing that came into my mind was ‘you took the right decision’."

Aleix Espargaro
Aleix Espargaro

Aleix Espargaro explained how he learned to tame the low grip Barcelona circuit on a weekend which is turning into a dream for him.

A day after tearfully confirming that he would retire at the end of the season, Espargaro claimed a lap record during Friday practice at the Catalunya MotoGP.

Last year, Espargaro won in Barcelona - his home race, at a circuit where the Aprilia is feared by its rivals.

Espargaro’s secret on Friday was: “The way you accelerate is completely different. You wait, wait, wait to understand when you have rear traction.

“If you rush one metre with the throttle, you enter a spin and you will never recover the traction.

“Especially with a new tyre it is very difficult to understand where you can accelerate.”

He described the track: “The grip is very poor. I struggled this morning with how to ride the bike.

“It was a shock. It’s not about the speed, it’s about the feeling.

“Then, lap by lap, I enjoyed it a lot. I had fun. I never thought I could break the record today, so I am happy.”

Espargaro was asked if the track was different to a year ago when he won the grand prix.

“Not so different,” he said. “A little worse grip. It is always shocking when you come to Barcelona because the grip is extremely low, so you have to adapt. It is not easy.”

He added: “The grip is too low. I prefer low grip to a bumpy track. But the low grip is dramatic.”

Notably Espargaro displayed his best day of the 2024 season after confirming retirement in an emotional press conference.

“The feeling? Yesterday was an amazing day, one of the best days of my life,” he said.

“This morning when I woke up, the first thing that came into my mind was ‘you took the right decision’.

“I woke up super happy and relaxed. I had breakfast in the motorhome and it was like home, normal. Normally it is not like this.

“So, this morning I was relaxed. Also, I rode the bike relaxed.

“So I am glad I took this decision.”

Espargaro joked that the goodwill and relief of announcing his retirement could power him on throughout the rest of 2024, as it helped him on Friday in Barcelona.

“I hope! It hasn’t been the best start to a season of my life,” he said.

“But I have nine points more than last year. If I ride like this and win the title it would be amazing! Like a fairytale!

“I know I will miss it a lot. Everybody in Aprilia, riding the RS-GP. The only purpose I have is to smile in every lap until Valencia.”

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