Following Aprilia’s best start to a MotoGP season in the hands of Aleix Espargaro at Qatar with consecutive top tens, day-one at Portimao was slightly more difficult for the Spanish rider. 

Espargaro finished 14th fastest and suffered a crash late on in FP2.

Asked about the first day in Portugal, Espargaro said: "I’m happy with the first day. Overall the first session was useless and the second one was full dry, but the track was very, very slippery. 

"After the rain of the last two days, the track has no grip at all, but It was quite good with the tyres even if it was very slippery and I managed to stay always close to the top and with ten minutes left I was P1."

Regarding the crash, Espargaro highlighted it as simply a rider error having fitted the hard tyre. 

"I put the H tyre and I just crashed. So it was my mistake, but it’s not a big problem. Tomorrow I think the lap times will be immediately faster," Said Espargaro.

The crash halted any ideas Espargaro had of consolidating a top ten position as the rest of the field went on to improve.

With the hard tyre not seeing much action across 2021 so far - not a surprise given Qatar traditionally suits a softer compound, it was a tyre worth trying in Espargaro’s view as he likes to ride with a ‘hard front tyre’, even with the low grip conditions at Portimao. 

"So it was okay, but I was suffering a little bit with the front. I thought maybe I was collapsing the medium tyre. 

"I always like to ride with the hard front tyre. So I stopped and I said to my guys, let’s try the hard.

"I think at that moment nobody except Oliveira (had tried the hard), but I made a mistake as I wasn’t collapsing the front carcass on the medium tyre."

With tyres being a big topic of discussion so far in 2021, and Michelin bringing a different allocation compared to last year; it has certainly worked for some, but had a negative impact on others. 

And Espargaro has not been impressed by the new tyre brought forward this season by Michelin. 

The 31 year-old said: "I’m not happy. I want to defend Michelin, but It’s true that last year not everybody was happy with the front tyre. But here in Portimao, it was the only track where I felt at least myself quite okay. 

"So they remove the S, but now we have another tyre that is worse. We criticised the S because it wasn’t working and we wanted a solution - a better tyre - but that tyre we have now is not better, it is worse for me. 

"With the K tyre today it was okay, but the lap times were not fast. The grip was very low, and with Aprilia we have to at least use the hard compound. I don't like the S tyre at all. 

"But it is the same for everybody, so I will try to find a good compromise and a good balance and try to make the tyre work because especially at the end of the race I was very competitive."

 

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