Aleix Espargaro 5th in #ThaiGP Sprint, Maverick Viñales 18th
The final lap of the MotoGP Sprint Race thrilled the numerous and lively Thai fans with a battle fought all the way to the chequered flag between Aleix and Marc Marquez. The Aprilia riding Spaniard, after starting from the third spot on the grid, had built up a good gap ahead of his compatriot and was pushing to make a play for the third step of the podium, provisionally occupied by Marini. Unfortunately, the gap was reset when he went wide and, between passes and counter-passes, he wound up in fifth place. However, the feeling is there on a difficult track and the long race tomorrow (with a lot of strategy in play) will give Espargaró the chance to exploit all the hard work done during the practice sessions.
Saturday was not quite as happy for Maverick, who had been a protagonist until today here in Buriram. Both in qualifying and in the Sprint Race, the Aprilia rider was unable to find the good feeling from the other sessions. After starting from the third row, he had to reckon with the start height-device system failing to disengage, which relegated him to last place. In his attempt to recover, Viñales also exceeded track limits twice, forcing him to pay a long-lap penalty. The goal for tomorrow is to find those good sensations he had before and finish the weekend on a positive note.
I’m proud of the work we are doing on this track. Remembering last year, when I arrived here I did not have any great expectations, but I must say that I am feeling good. In the final laps today, I wanted to try to battle with Marini for the podium, but I made a mistake that allowed Marc to catch up. It was an exciting final lap. I knew that he was going to have a go on the final turn and, even though I braked extremely hard, he managed to stay ahead of me. A lot more strategy will come into play in the race tomorrow, but with the harder compound at the rear I was fast so I’ll be trying for the podium again.
I am angry because in qualifying and in the Sprint Race, we were unable to maintain the level we had up until this morning. In the race, I went wide twice. The pace was lacking, and we need to find out what happened. Tomorrow, much will depend on the feeling I’m able to find.