KTM’s Pol Espargaro says that he felt blocking Jack Miller while leading on the final tour of the Styrian Grand Prix “was the only thing I could do”, despite the move ultimately costing him a debut MotoGP win.
Espargaro struggled during the early part of the Styrian GP from a maiden pole position, the Spaniard running a distant fourth before the red flag stoppage that came as a result of Maverick Vinales’ scary Turn 1 crash after his Yamaha lost all braking capability.
He displayed much improved speed as the restarted 12 lap sprint got underway, snatching the lead away from Miller with five tours remaining before Miller began to mount the pressure back on the KTM man over the closing stages of the event.
When asked if he thought Miller was closer to him in turn 3 than expected, Espargaro replied: “I mean, I cannot see behind, so I didn’t know until I came here because many of you are asking why I closed the line so much in corner 3 and it’s because when I crossed the line I saw my board and it was plus zero so I thought everyone was super close.
“I was just trying to block the inside – it was the only thing I could do, because the Ducati behind with the slipstream could have beaten me for sure. I didn’t know where they were and I just tried to block the inside”, Espargaro said.
Having led the previous Red Bull Ring contest last weekend until a red flag stopped the action, the Spanish rider believed that he could have won the race this time had Miguel Oliveira not taken him by surprise in the final bend after Miller attempted to complete the undercut.
He said: “I think that I had a big chance to win today but, you know, by battling so much, in the end we gave the win to Miguel.”
As the riders turn towards the next race in Misano, Espargaro said that the bike is ‘set’ and that everything is ‘good.’ and that he will try ‘so hard’ for the win, which he narrowly missed out on at the Red Bull Ring.