Aleix Espargaro reckons his run to sixth in the Austrian Grand Prix is “not a disaster”, despite losing ten points to title rival Fabio Quartararo.
The Aprilia rider was left firmly on the back foot at the start of the race after his ride-height device failed to engage, causing him to plummet outside the top ten from ninth on the grid – though a decent first lap saw him rise back to his starting position.
Having run as high as fifth in the opening half of the encounter, Espargaro began to suffer the price of his rapid recovery as he began to hit tyre trouble – dropping him well away from leaders and into sixth under pressure from KTM’s Brad Binder and Suzuki’s Alex Rins in the closing tours.
Having held onto his position from the battling duo, Espargaro reckoned his day was “not a disaster” given the speed he showed in the early part of the contest, though he rued the start-device problem after it forced him to use up the best of his tyres while scything back through the field.
“I already had some problems during the practices with the start device because I couldn’t put it on, and unfortunately it happened again in the race so I lost many places off the start,” began Espargaro.
“I was able to recover a few places on the first lap and then I pushed in the first part of the race to recover ground, but I paid later on because I destroyed the rear tyre so hopefully we can improve this for the future.
“I didn’t really have the pace anyway (to fight further forward) this is the reality, I think I did a solid and very good race actually.
“I cannot be happy with sixth but I can be happy with my riding today because I rode to the limit all race, I was able to do four laps in the 1:29s which is very fast and at the end I destroyed the tyre so I lost some places.
“This track for me and the Aprilia we knew before coming here would be one of the most difficult tracks, but in the end sixth is not a disaster.”
With his two chief championship adversaries finishing 1-2 at the Red Bull Ring – Francesco Bagnaia fending off Quartararo for victory – Espargaro is now well over a race win of points adrift of Quartararo heading to Misano next time out, while Bagnaia has closed to within just 12 markers of the Spaniard following a third-straight success.