Aleix Espargaro finishes #FrenchGP sprint race in 8th, Maverick Viñales 9th
On the Saturday of the French GP weekend where the riders and bikes once again showed great potential, Aprilia was unable to convert the performance into a corresponding end result.
After going straight through to Q2 thanks to their great sessions yesterday, in the initial part of qualifying Maverick and Aleix demonstrated that they would be able to aim high. Maverick even held a clean lead for the entire first part of the session, but when he went back out on track to launch his decisive assault for pole position, which seemed to be closer than ever before, he was hindered by an electronic problem on his RS-GP. The time he had dominated with during the first part of Q2 only kept him on the second row in sixth place.
Things did not go any better for Aleix who fell victim to a crash as he was attempting his attack for the top positions, finishing with the eleventh time and a spot on the fourth row.
His starting position compromised the sprint race on Saturday, forcing both riders to battle in the positions just behind the leading group which, in the meantime, had widened the gap. Aleix finished eighth ahead of Maverick in ninth.
This morning I had extremely good sensations. Unfortunately, in the second qualifying run I made a mistake on turn 1, compromising my spot on the grid. So, in the Sprint race we decided to take a gamble, using the hard front tyre that we had not been able to test in any of the practice sessions. It was a test with a view to the race tomorrow, which will certainly be useful. We definitely have the pace to do well.
I am not at all pleased with the race and I am extremely angry. In qualifying we had the chance to do very well. The bike was perfect and I had a shot at pole position or the front row. Instead, we had a problem with the bike (I think electronic – we are still investigating) and the second bike wasn’t ready. These are mistakes that come with a high price to pay in the race because then, starting from behind, everything becomes more difficult and we can’t express the potential we have. We need to improve and grow more because we cannot afford these situations.