Aprilia MotoGP Rider Espargaro Blames Tires for Qatar Disappointment

Aprilia MotoGP Rider Espargaro Blames Tires for Qatar Disappointment



March 11th, 2024

Aleix Espargaro's dream of a strong showing in Sunday's MotoGP race at Losail International Circuit was dashed by what he believes were significant tire issues. Considered a favorite for the win after his impressive pace in the sprint race, Espargaro's Aprilia MotoGP machine dropped from second to ninth on the opening lap. Unable to recover, he finished a disappointing eighth.

Tire Troubles Hinder Espargaro's Aprilia MotoGP Charge

The Spanish rider pointed solely to tire problems for his lack of competitiveness.

"I had some problem with the rear tyre," he explained. "From the warm-up lap I felt that the rear tyre was like ice. No traction at all. It was a nightmare all race. I couldn't lean, Nothing I could do."

Espargaro's struggles were particularly frustrating considering his performance in the Saturday sprint race. There, he expertly managed his Michelin tires, passing both Marc Marquez and Francesco Bagnaia for a podium finish with his Aprilia MotoGP bike. This strong showing stood in stark contrast to Sunday's race, where he battled to maintain pace.

"On Saturday night when I went to sleep I was 100% sure that I would win the race. This is how I felt," Espargaro said. "But the race was a nightmare. I was extremely slow, [lapping in] 1m53s all race. Yesterday I did 52.4s in lap 8 of the sprint, so it was embarrassing for the Aprilia MotoGP team."

Espargaro is determined to understand the root cause of his tire issues.

"We have to try to understand with Michelin and with the team [what happened]," he said.

He highlighted the difficulty of diagnosing tire problems in the past, where a lack of pace could be attributed to rider error. However, his strong performance on Saturday makes this explanation unlikely this time around for the Aprilia MotoGP machine.

"On Saturday, I was very fast. Even on the last lap I felt that I could go in 1m52-half quite easily and today [Sunday] I almost crashed in every corner. I was very lucky to finish in the top 10," he explained.

Aprilia Admits Work to be Done

Espargaro's teammate, Maverick Viñales, echoed the sentiment that Aprilia MotoGP has some work to do before consistently challenging at the front. The Italian manufacturer's heavily revamped RS-GP machine showed promise during pre-season testing, but the opening race exposed areas for improvement for the Aprilia MotoGP team.

Viñales acknowledged the significant changes made to the bike and the time needed to reap the rewards. "Of course, I'm not happy with the result [in Qatar] because our level is much higher," he said. However, he highlighted some positive developments, particularly regarding acceleration and starts for the Aprilia MotoGP bike.

"I'm happy with what I see and what I can bring to the team to improve the bike because one part that is very important is the start, [it] improved a lot compared to last year. And another important point is the bike accelerates really well," Viñales explained.

Focus on Braking and Balance for Aprilia Development

Viñales pinpointed the braking system and weight distribution as key areas requiring attention for the Aprilia MotoGP development team.

"Now it's about the way we brake, especially with the downforce and the difference in the aerodynamics, it's pushing the front tyre on the wrong side, so we need to be aware of that and try to improve," he said.

While the overall performance in Qatar was underwhelming, Aprilia MotoGP has identified areas for improvement. With continued development and a better understanding of tire management, Espargaro and Viñales will be hoping to challenge for podium finishes in the upcoming races.

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Image credit of Motorsport Images

tag: Aprilia , MotoGP , Espargaro

Klei Hoxha Author

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