Espargaro "almost crashed three times" tailing Marquez
Aleix Espargaro says he “almost crashed three times” chasing Aragon Grand Prix poleman Marc Marquez on his way to Aprilia’s first top-five MotoGP grid slot in two years.
Espargaro tucked in behind Marquez's Honda for his final flying lap, and produced a time of 1m47.733s which put him briefly on the front row in third.
He was quickly shuffled back to fifth, but it still represented his best qualifying effort since the 2017 Japanese GP.
Commenting on the lap, Espargaro says he suffered a lot of front-end chatter chasing Marquez as he was pushing the bike harder than he had all weekend, and almost fell on several occasions as a result.
“I did a lap behind him [Marquez], but I had a lot of chattering at the apex because I really went a lot faster than in other sessions because I followed him,” explained Espargaro.
“And in the apex of the corner, before he touches the throttle, the speed he is taking is incredible.”
He added: “It’s not super difficult to ride like this, but the bike has to allow it and the problem is when I go at that level I had a lot of chattering.
“I didn’t have chattering all weekend, and in my flying lap I almost crashed three times because of the chattering.”
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Aragon has proven a strong track for Aprilia in recent years, with Espargaro matching the Noale marque’s best MotoGP result of sixth in the previous two editions of the race.
In qualifying, Espargaro’s teammate Andrea Iannone made it into Q2 for the first time this year, marking the first time ever two Aprilias have taken part in the pole shootout session.
When asked why the RS-GP tends to go so well at Aragon, Espargaro believes the lack of hard acceleration points and the fact the bike is leant over when braking at most corners – thus masking the bike’s lack of weight on the rear – plays a big factor.
“Where we suffer most, both Andrea and myself, is stopping the bike in a straightline,” he said.
“But the corners where you have to brake a little bit with lean angle - like almost every corner at Aragon – [we do better], because the rear has a lot of weight [at lean] so we can stop the bike better.
"On the stop phase, yes [the bike has good edge grip]. Every time we stop the bike completely straight [up] we suffer because we have no weight on the rear.
“So the engine braking is not working enough, we have no [ground] contact, so we cannot reduce the speed.
“But every time we brake with 25, 30 degrees lean angle the rear tyre is pushing [into] the ground and we have weight and we can stop the bike. I think this is one of the biggest differences from other tracks.”
Additional reporting by German Garcia Casanova
Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
Photo by: Gold and Goose / LAT Images
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