Aleix Espargarò did not have a particularly exciting Friday at Le Mans because after finishing a wet track-conditioned FP1 in a decent tenth position, in the second free practice session he ran into two crashes just a few minutes apart. In the Aprilia pits the mechanics performed a half miracle, repairing the second bike in a few minutes. But by now the damage was done and the Spaniard had to settle for a 14th position which looks bad given the potential shown by the RS-GP in the first four races of the season.
During the briefing with journalists at the end of the day, Espargarò was also asked if he had used the information accumulated by Dovizioso in the wet at Mugello, in his test that was heavily conditioned by adverse weather.
"I didn't use any information on Dovizioso's test and it's a real shame - said Aleix - Dovi is an excellent rider and I think the Aprilia test team has grown a lot over the years, so I know we have an excellent team. Dovizioso’s two tests, however, were meaningless for us because the weather prevented us from understanding things well. Every track, every asphalt and even every rain is different from track to track. In Jerez he was not fast due to the strong wind and it was his first test on our bike. We didn't have any advantage from his tests here. "
Aleix, however, immediately made it clear that he strongly hopes that the collaboration between Aprilia and Dovizioso continues.
"I think a third and even a fourth Dovizioso test with us would be an excellent thing. He is a very good rider, very sensitive and if he can continue testing throughout the season it would be fantastic. Aprilia has another test on the calendar in July and if he were not to do it, I would have to give up a holiday so I hope he can do others! ".
Returning to this Friday, it did not go exactly as he had hoped…
"It's Le Mans! These conditions are difficult, it's very cold. As for the two crashes, I think I was a bit unlucky. I'm in a moment of the season when I have a lot of confidence on the bike, so I pushed straight away and on the lap in which I crashed I would certainly have done a low 1'32. But I exaggerated and crashed, so I had to run to the garage to get the second bike, which I usually don't like very much. I tried to be fast immediately and I made another mistake. I apologize to my team, they were two serious mistakes. "
How did you explain the two crashes?
"The most plausible explanation for these crashes is that I was feeling confident and fast, but I didn't pay enough attention to warming up the tyres. I made the two mistakes for this reason and the mechanics were very good at putting the bike back in order to get me back out. I was fast enough anyway and I know that even if tomorrow could be a difficult day for me, I am confident because I know I can be fast. "
What was missing to improve in the final part?
"When I went out of the pits after the second crash, the mechanics told me that it would be better to warm up the tyres well for two laps, but I had already lost about 12 minutes and so after warming up the tyres well I didn't have time to really push hard. But it's just my fault and my mistakes. It took me four laps to be pretty effective anyway, so we have potential to be as fast as we were at Portimao and Jerez. "
At least this morning you tested the new RS-GP in the wet. How did it go?
"I wouldn't say it was completely wet this morning. In any case, at the beginning when it was very wet I had good sensations from the bike, I also said it when I got back to the pits, it didn't go badly. I'm curious to see how it can go tomorrow, as heavy rain is forecast ".
Confirmation of the double race on the Red Bull Ring in Austria has arrived. You protested harshly in 2020 for the safety of the track…
"I know Dorna is doing their utmost to make us run a full championship despite all the Covid problems. But I don't like running two races on the same track, even if the track is Aragon which is my favourite. I don't like it and I think this makes a championship less pure and true, but this is just my idea. In Austria then it's even stranger, we always talk about that track in every single Safety Commission. I already know that for 2021 nothing will change, while changes are expected for 2022. So we will race twice on an unmodified track according to our indications. It is not something that makes us riders happy. "