Aleix Espargaro fights back to finish #FrenchGP in 5th place, Maverick Viñales DNF
This press release must find a way to convey how the Le Mans race leaves Aprilia Racing both with feelings of great disappointment and great strength in view of the upcoming events, beginning from the next round in Mugello.
In the French race, Maverick Viñales ended up in the gravel after contact with Bagnaia as he was completing a manoeuvre to overtake the Ducati rider but not before he had the time, in almost four laps, to show that he was fast enough today to be in the running for the win. At that moment, Maverick was moving up toward the race lead after a good start from the second row, demonstrating speed and clean riding, fully supported by an RS-GP in grand form.
Things went a bit better for Aleix Espargaró who, also off the line well from the eleventh spot on the grid, had already moved into sixth place when he dropped down no fewer than ten positions during a battle that included contact among several riders on the first lap. From there, he rode a brilliant comeback race to finish fifth, just behind the riders who were battling for the podium.
The next event for all the Aprilia riders and enthusiasts is set for 27 May at the Misano circuit for Aprilia All Stars. This is the huge Aprilia celebration starring the riders and bikes which have written motorcycling history. The RS-GP machines will be on the track with Espargaró, Viñales, Oliveira, Fernandez, and Savadori (who finished with an outstanding twelfth place today for the RNF satellite team). And with them will be Aprilia World Champions Max Biaggi and Loris Capirossi, plus many other riders and friends of the Aprilia brand from the sport and entertainment world. Entry is free of charge and the paddock will be livened up by music and events for the entire day on Saturday, 27 May.
The first thing I did today was apologise to the team for the mistake in qualifying, which did not make things easy in the two races. I started well today and then there was the usual chaos so I lost time trying to avoid it and found myself rather far back. I recovered and I had a great pace. Toward the end, I would have been able to have a go with Augusto but it wasn’t worth the risk of ruining his great race too. The good thing is that the RS-GP continues to be fast on every track and that is the most important thing. Now we’ll recharge and get ready for the upcoming races.
I’m angry, not so much about what happened but because of the lost opportunity. I felt really strong today and I’m sure I would have been battling for the win. It was one of those races where, as a rider, you just feel like you have a little something more. Bagnaia and I are two professional riders. It was an unfortunate contact and the adrenaline of the moment had us heated up, but the one thing that is clear is that we riders – all of us – need to settle down and be an example for the young people. The regret remains but no controversy. It happened and we’ll keep looking forward as early as Mugello. Here in Le Mans we demonstrated once again that we are extremely fast and we improved a lot of things this weekend.