Pol Espargaro is confident he could have fought for victory in the Doha Grand Prix if not for his poor qualifying performance that saw him start the contest from 15th.
Espargaro looked well set for a finish well inside the top ten after displaying race speed comparable to the leading riders, the Spaniard having closed a significant gap to the leading group of nine riders in a similar vein to what he managed in the preceding week’s Qatar GP.
A pair of costly errors just before he reached the head gaggle-that according to Espargaro lost him six seconds in total- ultimately scuppered any chance of finishing within the top ten, limiting him to a 13th place result despite crossing the chequered flag just six seconds down on race winner Fabio Quartararo.
Espargaro says his two errors were primarily caused by having to being “psychologically tired” after fighting through the field, but added that he was satisfied with the “amazing” pace he was able to show that saw him able to lap faster than the leading men throughout the encounter.
“There are two ways of seeing today, in race pace we had a really good rhythm and for sure we had the speed to fight for the victory or for the podium but starting in the position we did and with the two huge mistakes I made that added up to around six seconds (lost) I should have been in front of Joan (Mir),” said Espargaro.
“The position looks very bad but if you look at the race pace, we are there and we have the speed and we are fast, even here where we struggle a lot the only problem was we didn’t put everything together and I’m sure it’ll come but it’s a pity we couldn’t make it today.
“I had an amazing race pace and I was catching the top guys all throughout the race, but I’m always so tired to be able to achieve this and when I finally got to the lead group I made the two big mistakes due to being psychologically tired as I had to overtake so many guys.
“I definitely would have finished seventh having started 14th, I shouldn’t need to be overtaking so much so we need a better Saturday to be in a better starting position and then things should be much easier, we just need to stop making mistakes.
“I’m looking forward (to Portimao) I just want to leave Qatar, it’s a nightmare for us on Saturdays whereas it’s a dream for Ducati so we are going to go there and show them that we can also do fast laps and then in the race everything’s going to be much easier and we can fight for the top positions and for sure the podium.”
With factory Honda team-mate Marc Marquez potentially set for a return to competition at the Portuguese Grand Prix nearly nine months after the Spanish GP crash that broke his right humerus in his arm, Espargaro would have ideally liked to have notched up greater than 11 points across the first two contests of the year.
His points haul leaves him tenth in the overall riders standings heading to Portimao next weekend, four points clear of Marquez’s replacement Stefan Bradl.