Aleix Espargaro just misses out on #AmericasGP Sprint podium with 4th, Maverick Viñales 10th
Saturday at COTA in Austin, Texas started off with ups and downs for the Aprilia riders. If Aleix had clinched the second row on the grid with a fantastic performance, Maverick had his best lap compromised by a yellow flag which came out due to other riders crashing. In any case, he still had the pace to start from the eighth spot.
At the start of the 10-lap Sprint race, Aleix snatched third place straight away. In just a few laps he had improved even further, moving into second and staying there until the seventh lap. In the final battle for the third step of the podium, Aleix squeezed as much as possible from his RS-GP (second fastest race lap) and had his first medal of the season snatched from him by a hair. Great redemption on a “dark track” for him and for Aprilia.
Maverick was forced to throw himself into a furious comeback ride after a less than perfect start. Falling back into eighteenth position on the first lap, he clawed his way back up to tenth. It was an inaccurate result based on his performance and potential, but in a frenetic 10-lap race, it’s difficult to do better.
I am extremely pleased and I must thank the team very much. Normally we don’t make huge changes to the setup, but this time they did everything they could to help me. We changed several things on the bike to make it more agile and I immediately felt better, managing to be fast already in qualifying. It’s a shame about third place. I made a few small mistakes that kept me from staying ahead of Rins, but being so fast in this type of race, characterised by a quick pace despite the temperatures and an extremely slippery track, is very positive and makes me happy. From the beginning of the weekend we improved in every session. Tomorrow we’ll try to make another step forward to get even closer to the leaders!
I didn’t manage the clutch well at the start, losing time in the first acceleration phase, and I found myself practically at the back of the group. In these conditions, everyone knows that expressing your full potential becomes complicated. I had the pace to stay with the leaders – I’m certain of it. In fact, in spite of the traffic, I recovered several positions in just a few laps. The speed is there and I felt good in the saddle, so that is definitely a positive note, but the important thing now is to improve the start. It was my fault. Today I made a mistake and I’m fully determined to make sure it doesn’t happen again. We’ll analyse the data to improve this aspect because we’re on target for everything else.