What was supposed to be another race to remember for Pol Espargaro quickly turned sour, with a myriad of issues affecting his eleventh MotoGP race for the KTM factory, and a rear brake problem ultimately enough to force him to retire.

It was however, a collision with Hector Barbera just off the start that had Espargaro really nonplussed. With the track-side barriers so close on the run up to turn one, the KTM rider was lucky to remain upright in the wake of a substantial hit that injured his right hand.

Other than slight discomfort, the collision was to have no lasting effect, and it was a separate mechanical issue – a "stupid problem on the bike” - that put him out of KTM’s home event, in which factory test rider Mika Kallio scored a fine tenth place.

“Many unlucky events today, and all of them together,” said Espargaro. “From the start, going to the grid, I think the problems start. We had a problem with the front disc and we had this big preparation on it. Then the mechanic was super good because they were super fast on the grid. They changed both carbon discs that were damaged. We need to think and to see why. But they changed it. Everything was improved.

“On the hot [warm-up] lap, everything was working good. I was ready to do a good race, then on the start, I don't know what the hell Barbera did, honestly. So, now the images, I don't know.

“He goes, I was really on the left of the straight, really close to the white line, and he comes to me. He hit me really, really hard on the hand. He almost pulled me out. I could stay on the bike, this was the second problem. But I lose a lot of positions.

“Then when I arrive to the third brake, this was a separate problem. We lose the rear brake for one stupid problem on the bike. It can appear one of thousand tenths, so it appear on the race. This problem put us off of the race and really unlucky day. After the warm-up we did, after all the weekend we did. I think it was the worst way to finish this home GP.”

Espargaro later revealed Barbera had sent a text message to offer his apologies for the incident, but said he was waiting to “cool down” before replying.

His frustrations were understandable. All weekend, he had shown real pace, and his consistency in Sunday’s morning warm-up session suggested he, too, could have fought for what would have been a second top ten place in little over a week.

“I hope,” he said when asked if he could have fought with Kallio. “During all the weekend, we were same or a little bit better perform than Mika. Also this morning with our race tire. We were in front of him. We were six.

“All potential was really good to be on the top on the race, but now to say what we could do, I don't know. I think we could do a bit of rhythm, but we couldn’t because we didn’t race the race.

“What we have to say is that Mika has made an amazing race. We all KTM are really happy with Mika because at the end for the sponsor, for the people from KTM that come here to see a good race, he show the potential of the bike. I couldn’t, but he show it. This is the most important for me. The rest is talk for nothing.”

Elaborating on Kallio’s presence in the KTM garage during a wildcard appearance, Espargaro continued, “Every time that Mika is fast in some sectors, we can check why is he fast. We have more info. We know which tyres he’s using. We know the potential for the tyre, because usually when he’s doing a good rhythm and a good pace, it helps us.

“Definitely he’s super important for us. When someone is fast on the team, not me or Bradley or whatever, it is good. He helps us so much on the weekend today. For me as a rider, it was a shame to don’t finish the race.

“I wanted to see what I could do better than him or worse than him, or same as him. He was really fast this weekend. We have missed an opportunity to see all the potential. This is what make me angry. We are going to try harder in next race in Silverstone.”


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