Frustrated. Angry. Sad. Pissed off - all means of describing the mood of Aleix Espargaro on Sunday afternoon, after the Catalan suffered yet another engine failure which cruelly curtailed his home grand prix.

Espargaro had gone into Sunday believing a podium aboard the Aprilia RS-GP was within the realms of possibility, two days of fine riding and the Noale factory's best qualifying showing since 2002 behind him.

That promise meant Espargaro couldn't sleep ahead of the race. He was sure the Aprilia - notoriously good at conserving its tyres and maintaining pace - could challenge toward the front in punishing, hot, low-grip conditions.

But it soon became clear all was not well. The RS-GP's engine was not revving normally from the very start, he said. Eventually the motor gave way on lap eight as Espargaro lay tenth, a place behind Johann Zarco, who went on to finish fifth.

"Very pissed off," began Espargaro, who also retired out of races in Le Mans and Mugello, while engine issues have been a worry at the past four rounds. "We did a great job all weekend. We had a good pace to fight for a top five, I think, maybe even for a place on the podium.

"But from the start, I felt that the bike was not working. I did a good start but then the bike was a lot slower than in the warm up, it was not revving normally, and I was expecting the engine to stop. The engine was destroyed.

"Four engines in the three last races. We need to understand what is going on. I think also that in Mugello, if I hadn't made a mistake and made a jump start, I would have pushed the bike to the end and then also would have had the same problem. Really frustrated. Really really angry. Really disappointed, but this is racing, and I hope we can understand what's going on.

"At the beginning, everybody was very anxious, attacking from the beginning, and already on lap 5 the spin level of everyone was very high. I was very comfortable because we had a good pace with a used tyre, because my bike didn't spin even with a very used tyre.

"The last ten laps, a couple of the top six riders were in the 1'49s. So I think I could fight for top five for sure and maybe for the podium. But it doesn't matter, because the engine didn't arrive at the end."

As well as this premature end coming after a spate of engine issues, team-mate Sam Lowes had to work through a succession of mechanical problems that have pocked recent qualifying efforts. Clearly Aprilia still has some way to go to ensure both its bikes can consistently perform in high-pressure situations.

"I'm very sad, because it's my home GP, it's very difficult to always be in the top with MotoGP, but with Aprilia it's even more difficult. And we showed that we were very competitive, and yeah, no points again. We are almost the last in the championship classification, and I think it's not fair. We deserve more, but racing this."

On whether the RS-GP's considerable potential is any comfort, Espargaro continued, "I'm very happy overall. The speed was there. It's very difficult with this bike to be in the top five every single session. In the qualifying, in the warm up, every single session, we showed that we had the speed, we showed that we had the pace.

"I was very nervous at the beginning of the race, at lunchtime today I couldn't sleep, because I knew I had the pace to fight for the podium, I'm completely sure. But from the beginning, the bike was slow, like yesterday in FP3.

"In FP3 I stopped, because I felt something strange, so I wasn't pushing and then the engine was broken. But obviously today I couldn't stop, so I pushed until the bike said, stop, enough.

"We know for sure the engine is broken. Same problem that we had in the last three races. Three races, four engines. And we broke more also in America. The spec is the same, but the difference is small, but we always broke the engine for the same reason. We don't understand why."

By Neil Morrison

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