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MotoGP, Espargaró: "It makes sense to risk for a podium finish, but with Marc I could have made a mess"

"I fought like a lion, but from mid-race I had no more tires and when Marc protected the inside I preferred not to attack him. Ducati's progress in Barcelona? That's why the tests are important."

MotoGP: Espargaró:

A fourth place was probably not the result with which Aleix Espargaró hoped to end the last weekend of his career in front of the Barcelona crowd, but the Catalan rider can still be quite satisfied with the result achieved, knowing that he gave everything in the Catalan GP. Despite a bad start, the poleman did everything he could to try to return to the podium after his success in the Sprint, but tire degradation got in the way and convinced him to settle for the wooden medal.

"Pecco and Jorge obviously did a good job, they improved tremendously from last year, and they were incredibly fast on medium tires, while we couldn't do it ," Aleix recounted , "I had zero grip from the start and couldn't touch the gas. I tried to preserve the tires from the very beginning because I knew it would be a drama at the end, but even so, halfway through the race I had no more rubber. I was sliding a lot from the early stages, so I was wearing out the tires a lot, and even though I was constantly trying to get the bike back up, halfway through the race the first two started flying and it was impossible for me to follow them. There was nothing I could do."

The eldest of the Espargaró brothers admitted that he had entertained the idea of opting for the soft rear, as Pedro Acosta and by Marc Marquez did, but the risk would have been too high.

"It was a possibility. I was still fast in the second part of yesterday's Sprint race, but together with Michelin and my team we agreed that it would be too risky given our consumption forecast for the long race and decided to opt for the medium, which was not a risk. The first two got on the podium with the medium, but it didn't work for me," he noted.

Riding on top of the problems, the Spaniard dreamed until almost the end of attempting an attack on Marc Marquez on the last lap to try to take that third position he had occupied for much of the race.

"I tried everything, because Marc had no grip in the right turns and I told myself that if I was close to him in Turn 13 or 14, maybe I could pass him on the inside. He protected the inside, however, and at the last moment I decided not to try. I could have made a big mess with Marc, in Catalunya, on a special weekend for me, and I didn't want to do that. Fourth place is enough - Aleix acknowledged - I was very close to the limit in the last 3 or 4 laps, following Marc. The bike was sliding a lot, but I knew that if I was close to Marc I could push him to make a mistake. It was about the podium, in my last home race, so it was time to take a risk. If you have to risk, it has to be in the last three laps to play for the podium, otherwise there is no point. I tried everything, but Marc is Marc, he made no mistakes and secured his podium."

Thanks to the third place obtained by the Gresini team rider, Ducati managed to score a hat trick. What has changed from the past, when the Reds were struggling more on the Catalan circuit?

"It's a good question, but I don't know the answer ," said the 34-year-old. " They chose Barcelona as their test track, so they definitely made progress. They beat the race I won last year by 20 seconds, which is crazy! I fought the whole race like a lion, trying to control at the beginning, halfway through the race I had destroyed tires but I tried everything I could, but it was not enough, because the Aprilia finished fourth."

Asked whether the change in pace from the Ducatis might depend on having eight riders on the track, the Aprilia rider added, "It's hard to understand. It's a matter of so many details, but when they chose this track for testing they definitely managed to find something with the medium tire and at the level of tire management. That's why testing is so important. Last year it was Aprilia's one-two punch, this year they chose Barcelona and we didn't and they got a hat trick."

Automatic Translation by DeepL

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