Aleix Espargaro took the tyre gamble none of his MotoGP rivals risked, while also going against Michelin’s recommendations, on his way to securing 13th place for Aprilia in Thailand.

The Spaniard was the sole rider to opt for the soft rear Michelin tyre for the Buriram race with all of his fellow MotoGP competitors heeding Michelin’s advice and staying with the hard rear due to the abrasive track and hot temperatures.

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Despite the information from the French tyre manufacturer, Espargaro says he was certain the soft rear was the optimum tyre given Aprilia’s rear grip weaknesses regardless of fears about tyre life for the final laps of the race.

“The soft tyre, in my opinion, was the best possible choice,” Espargaro said. “I discussed it at length with the team and with the Michelin technicians. There were some doubts on duration and, on the final laps, I actually did prefer to maintain my position without risking.

“We suffered a lot with the rear grip from the bike which is one of the weakest points of the 2018 bike. It was impossible for me to race the hard tyre. I tried the hard tyre in warm-up but I didn’t work as there was no grip at all.  

“I could have raced on the hard and finished 16th or 17th but I didn’t want that position so we took the gamble with the soft tyre.

“They [Michelin] were not afraid about an exploding tyre but they said to me I would not be able to finish, it would be impossible, as the tyre would not last. We looked at the data to see how we could manage.

“I think I achieved as much as was possible on this track that is definitely one of the most difficult on the calendar for us. Thirteenth place and three points cannot be fully satisfying. We need to improve, and we are well aware of our weak points.”

After the Thailand race, Michelin Motorsport two-wheel manager Piero Taramasso confirmed the hard rear was the recommended compound following analysis into its tyres from practice and qualifying and feels given the top 12 finishes ahead of Espargaro all used the hard it proved the right pick.

“The riders tried the whole choice of tyres throughout the practice sessions and we thoroughly analysed the performance and durability of all compounds and we gave advice to all teams and riders as we do at every race,” Taramasso said. “This guidance to use the hard rear proved to be the correct one as the race was exciting with consistent lap-times and a great battle between Marc and Andrea at the end.

“The tyres performed well all race and despite the intense heat and the excessive spinning this caused on an abrasive track, we are happy with the overall performance.”

Scott Redding, Espargaro’s Aprilia team-mate, opted for the hard rear tyre and finished 16th but just 2.4 seconds behind at the chequered flag. The British rider’s final lap was 1.3 seconds quicker than Espargaro’s as his soft tyre performance dropped off over the final three laps.



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