Espargaro near-crash set up last-lap Silverstone MotoGP thriller with Bagnaia

Espargaro near-crash set up last-lap Silverstone MotoGP thriller with Bagnaia

The Aprilia rider pipped championship leader Bagnaia on the line by 0.215 seconds after an enthralling last-lap battle on slick tyres as rain fell in parts of the Silverstone track.

Espargaro made his decisive move on the run into the first part of the Maggotts complex on the final tour, slicing through on Bagnaia to score his first win of the season.

But Espargaro says that move was the result of him almost highsiding off his RS-GP at Farm curve earlier in the lap, having anticipated being able to make his move into the following Village corner.

“I was a lot faster in corners two and three, so my plan was to overtake Pecco in two and three,” Espargaro said.

“But in corner two, preparing to go on the outside of Pecco, I did a highside.

“I was very close to crashing, and I lost ground.

“Then I was focused on trying to recover on him, and in the last corner of last year’s circuit [Woodcote] Pecco has a lot less traction than me.

“So, I gained a lot of time there. And I knew that in the first right [Copse] he lost traction, in the second one [Maggotts] with more temperature on the right-hand side of the tyre, he will have even less acceleration.

“So, I was super committed, I braked very late.”

Espargaro’s victory follows on from his first podium of the season at the Dutch GP prior to the summer break, when a track limits penalty for Brad Binder promoted him to third.

Having shown strong pace in the pre-season and with the expectation to fight for more victories following his breakout year in 2022, Espargaro admits he has been too ambitious in 2023 so far.

“At the beginning of the season the expectation was too high, on myself and on the team,” he added.

“So, I made too many mistakes; I crashed in Argentina, I crashed in America, I lost a lot of points.

“I had good speed, many Fridays, many sessions in the dry I was close to to Pecco, leading.

“But it doesn’t matter, you have to be fast on Sunday. So, for one reason or another I was not able to really match my speed with the results.

“And obviously we don’t have the points we deserve. I was fast on Friday here, unfortunately yesterday was a wet race with a wet tyre.

“But I was happy with my performance. Today I was super committed, had good pace, had a good opportunity in front of me.”

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Espargaro noted that “key” to his victory was a new aerodynamic fairing Aprilia introduced at Silverstone, which aided turning and helped him to drive out of corners better.

“From Friday when I started to test the new fairing and front-end of the bike, I felt I could close the corner better,” he explained.

“So, then I was able to prepare the pick-up a little bit earlier. Actually, to do the pick-up in the acceleration is still one of the points I have to improve a lot.

“Maverick is always better in the pick-up phase. I improved a lot this weekend with the new fairing and I think it was the key.

“I was able to pick up the bike much better and accelerate faster. This has been a very important upgrade.

“In Austria looks like Aprilia brings more new things to test. The bike is very competitive, but not quick enough. Hopefully one day we can be the reference bike on the grid.”

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