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MotoGP, Espargarò convinced that without the collision with Quartararo he could have won

"Fabio said sorry, these things happen. Now I’m 20 points behind him, it means my level is outstanding. I overtook everyone at the chicane, I was unbeatable there, I was super-angry. Today I had nothing to lose. "

MotoGP: Espargarò convinced that without the collision with Quartararo he could have won

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Assen crowned Bagnaia (Ducati) as winner, after he had a lonely run to the flag. And if Ducati rightly celebrates, thanks to Fabio’s crash, Aleix Espargarò with his equally Italian Aprilia can be defined as the moral winner at the Dutch circuit. The Spaniard, innocent victim of the Frenchman’s collision, first dropped down to fifteenth, but lap after lap he reached the front again with an impressive pace, earning fourth place. The double pass at the final chicane on Binder and Miller demonstrated the perfect feeling reached rider and bike, and at mid-season Aleix and his Aprilia are second in the standings, 21 points behind the leader Quartararo.

The race started off with a stroke of bad luck, but by passing all those riders you must have had a lot of fun. Was it the race of your life?

"No, Argentina was better, I got 25 points there! - Aleix declared - unfortunately they don't give points for this. Something I was missing in the last 4-5 races is to be the fastest on track. And I think this weekend, except during qualifying with the yellow flags, I've been the fastest. I've shown my speed and this for me is very important. Today I didn't win because Fabio hit me, but I think the victory was clear. For me it's important to have this feeling.”

It seemed that overtaking was easier for you than for other riders, what was your secret?

“Today I had nothing to lose, and I think I’m going to sound arrogant, but my pace today was a little bit better than the rest. So, when you are around half a second faster, it’s a lot easier because it means you are doing something very different than the rest. In the last chicane I was braking a lot later than everybody, in the last sector the speed I was able to carry was unbelievable. So, this is why it was quite easy for me.”

You said you had nothing to lose, but you are second in the championship, and with Fabio's retirement today you have closed the gap.

“When Fabio hit me, I said, ‘your race is done’. Nothing will change if you score 2-3 points, doesn't matter. You need to go for more than 10 points and if you crash, you crash. So I said to myself, ‘today is the day you have to prove you are fast and you have a good bike’. And I proved it. I was smiling when I saw the lap times; 32.5, 32.5. I knew it was impossible that the others go at that pace and I saw that I was catching the leading group. So I was also angry, but at the same time happy to maintain that pace.”

Did Fabio's mistake in that corner take you by surprise or did you expect him to attack at that point?

“I was very strong there and Fabio knew it. The reason why Fabio did that move is because his feeling with the bike is super-high, he’s able to close the lines a lot because he has a lot of feeling.  But today I was also super-fast, so I closed the line like him and we collided. He said sorry to me because he did a big mistake judging this braking. He’s not a dirty rider, but his confidence is that high that he’s able to close the lines a lot.”

But what about that overtaking at the last corner that earned you two positions? Jack didn't seem thrilled.

“It was not with me, actually. I said to Jack ‘I was not that dirty’. He said ‘no, I was not blaming you. I was blaming Brad, he hit me on the arm’. I said OK! The overtaking was in the last braking, but in reality the pass was in the left corner. I carried 20k per hour more, it was unbelievable the speed that I carried. So it was just the inertia that I got into the corner. I saw that Brad was not super good on the brakes there and I said ‘I go in’ and was able to stop the bike. I'm happy because it was very important for the points. I think every overtake I did during the race was there.”

How did you stay calm to get back into the race? What did you think at that moment?

“If you are not calm it’s impossible to do many laps half a second under the previous lap record. I was aggressive, angry, super-angry because every time I saw my dash the lap times I was doing I was more angry because I knew it was impossible the others were doing their pace and I was catching. But at the same time, I was happy to be doing those lap times.”

Did the new aerodynamics of the fairing affect your performance in the race?

"A lot. From the beginning of free practice we were much faster than the others, especially in the fast sector. We were losing something in other sectors of the track, but at that point the difference was clear."

Already in free practice you guessed that Fabio had a better pace but that keeping it without making mistakes would have been difficult. The goal of your race was therefore not to let him increase his lead in the standings. Objective achieved then.

“I'm an old man of this paddock, so I like to analyse how things go. I know the category, the bikes, my rivals. I know the confidence of Fabio and I also took a lot of time to analyse him on the videos, the races, the sessions, everything. I know how he is riding and his level of confidence is super high right now, but when you are in that moment, it's not that easy to maintain this. Today it's not that he was arrogant, but because he feels super faster than the rest, he made a bad judgement on that overtake and I knew that this could happen.”

Yesterday Fabio jokingly said that he would push to the limit, at the cost of having to recover for the whole summer break. Is it the same for you?

"I am feeling very tired this season, not only after this race. I am fighting for the title and this is a new situation for me, so even mentally I never felt this kind of pressure."

Do you feel more like you've lost a win, or have won fourth place?

“That’s difficult to know because I think today, I was able to win and Fabio finish second. This is a five point gain, instead I recovered 13. So it you think in terms of the championship it’s better. But I lost a victory. I’m pretty sure I could have won today. I have just one victory in my career, so I would prefer to recover five points and have the victory.”

Are you surprised at the level of your performance this season?

“Fabio has the number 1 on his back because he's the world champion, and after last weekend he had exactly the same points as last year when he won the title. And now I'm 21 points behind him. It means that my level, and the first part of the championship has been outstanding.”

 

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