Aleix Espargaro affirmed he was thrilled to score a third straight MotoGP podium at Le Mans despite his tyres being “on fire” due to the high temperatures seen on Sunday.
The Spaniard ran fourth for much of the French Grand Prix as his recent blistering run of form continued, the Aprilia racer then moving up to third with only half-a-dozen tours remaining following the crash of second-placed Francesco Bagnaia.
Having struggled with the temperature with his medium-compound front tyre while running closely behind eventual runner-up Jack Miller, Espargaro came under pressure from reigning world champion Fabio Quartararo’s Yamaha for his podium place in the closing stages.
The Argentinean GP victor managed to utilise the extra power of his RS-GP to hang onto his fourth rostrum result of the year though, Espargaro admitting post-race that he struggled for grip throughout the encounter, describing his tyres as being “on fire.”
“I’m really happy because Le Mans isn’t really a place where I enjoy riding, you have to stop the bike a lot and my riding style is better in faster corners where I can carry good corner speed which you cannot really do here,” explained Espargaro.
“I’m satisfied to show good performance here but it was very difficult to block Fabio (Quartararo) for the whole race and recover some points to him at his home GP, to do that here in dry conditions I never expected and I’m now only four points behind him so it’s great.
“I had no grip at all on the front or the rear and I couldn’t get good acceleration, the Ducati’s were extremely fast in this regard so I tried to rush more mid-corner but I lost the front many times so after I lost the front many times and had a high-side I decided to wait and leave a gap to reduce the pressure on the front tyre.
“I had an alarm in the dash and the tyre was on fire, I left half-a-second in front and started to ride a bit more comfortable and then there were many crashes because it was so difficult.
“In the end it was enough for the podium, and I could see on the screens that Fabio was pushing me but I knew that if I did my race and maintained a very good pace with no mistakes I knew he couldn’t overtake me, so I’m very happy.”
Espargaro reiterated that he is “sure” that he and Aprilia can fight for the 2022 MotoGP crown off the back of his recent rich run of form, his French finish now moving him to within just four points of series leader Quartararo with a third of the season now completed.
“I’m very happy with the level of riding I have reached, the stability and how good I feel with this group of people,” continued Espargaro.
“They have given me the bike that I’ve dreamed and asked for, all the changes I want I now have so I hope to keep the momentum and I’m sure we can fight for this championship, so I will try and fight to be on the podium in every race.”