Aleix Espargaro: “I said to myself ‘they are over the limit’ - I was right”

“I said to myself ‘either crash or they will destroy the front and the rear tyre'"

Aleix Espargaro
Aleix Espargaro

Aleix Espargaro insists he knew that his rivals were riding over the limit before they crashed out of the sprint race in Barcelona.

Espargaro’s dream weekend at the Catalunya MotoGP continued on Saturday when he won the sprint, after three riders had fallen out of the lead.

Espargaro announced he will retire from MotoGP at the end of this season but his victory on Saturday on home turf was a reminder of his cunning.

Raul Fernandez, Brad Binder and Pecco Bagnaia were all leading before crashing out but Espargaro saw it coming.

“I said on Thursday that at 80% of the tracks you can go full gas,” Espargaro said afterwards. “But there are a few tracks where it’s not just about speed.

“I could have gone as fast as them, at the beginning. After a bad start, I said to myself ‘they are over the limit’.

“They were using a lot of the front and the rear. I could see from behind.

“I said to myself ‘either crash or they will destroy the front and the rear tyre so you will have options at the end’.

“I was right.

“I was trying not to overtake. I could maintain their pace. I analysed everybody’s pace - I was the only one who proved I could go under 39.5 for a couple of laps. They were doing that lap which means they were over the limit.

“If I tried to overtake, I would have been over the limit.

“So I said ‘wait for five laps’. When the grip drops I would have the possibility to attack.

“I attacked Jorge Martin, then Pedro Acosta, then everybody started to crash.

“Sometimes, to have experience, it pays off!”

Espargaro described the elation of winning at his last-ever home round.

“Unbelievable. After a difficult race where you are focused,” he said.

“When you ride at the limit you don’t know if you are here, or in China. You are fully focused.

“You pick up the bike and realise you’re at your home circuit, on the main straight, winning the race. I am super happy.”

The Aprilia rider’s confirmation this week that he will bring an end to his career has relieved him of any expectation.

“I have no pressure,” he said. “I have a contract until the end, then after Valencia, I will go home. I will try to have fun, to smile.

“I never enjoy the grid. It is the worst moment of the weekend. I never enjoy it. Today I enjoyed it. I spoke to my wife, I saw my friends.”

Espargaro added: “It’s a fairytale. I have no words.

“Pole position, winning the sprint, all the people in the grandstands cheering for me…

“I could not dream of a better Thursday, Friday and Saturday at my last home GP.”

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