Starting just 20th on the initial grid, Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro gained places during both races starts on his way to twelfth place in Sunday's Styrian MotoGP.

The Spaniard was in 16th place and 16s from race leader Joan Mir when the red flags came out due to brake failure for Maverick Vinales, on the start of lap 17.

But while he had previously lost almost one-second per lap, Espargaro delivered a much stronger pace during the second race, crossing the line 6.4s from winner Miguel Oliveira after 12 laps (+0.5s per lap).

“I am satisfied. Especially in the second race, we maintained an excellent pace. We could have battled in the top 6," Espargaro said. "It’s a pity about the problems in qualifying that forced me to start from so far back.

"When you start the race with a gap like that, making up ground is very complicated, even when you’re lapping very fast. In any case, we are leaving this track, which is a hard one for us, demonstrating some steps forward compared to last year.

"I am convinced that our potential is higher. Unfortunately, up to now we haven’t been able to fully exploit it for one reason or the other.”

Team-mate Bradley Smith wasn't able to add to his three previous point-scoring rides, having run out of new tyres for the restart.

The Englishman was holding 20th when the race was stopped and was classified 19th after the 12-lap restart, which he likened to a 'qualifying session'.

“Unfortunately, the conditions didn’t favour me today. We were ready to make the RS-GP work well with higher temperatures, but that’s not how it went," Smith said.

"In the first race we were keeping up with the group, so the red flag was not an advantage for us.

"We didn’t have any new soft tyres to put on and the restart ended up being basically a qualifying session. Many riders with new tyres managed to maintain a pace that was unsustainable for us.

"I see the glass half full after this weekend. We have definitely grown and I hope to be able to confirm that on a track like Misano that is kinder to us.”

 

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