Grand prix

Aragon MotoGP: Aleix Espargaro: Francesco Bagnaia, Enea Bastianini ‘had something extra’, Brad Binder ‘one of the best’ | MotoGP

Espargaro was fourth, the same position he started the Aragon MotoGP for much of the race, as he struggled to find a way through on Brad Binder

But as the KTM rider struggled with grip during the closing stages, the Aprilia rider made a bold, but impressive move on the brakes at turn one. 

Despite getting ahead of Binder with two laps remaining, Espargaro had very high praise for the South African post-race: “Brad [Binder] is extremely good. One of the best riders on the grid without any doubt. 

“He doesn’t have one of the best bikes but he’s always strong, always extracting the most from his bike. 

“The first part of the race was difficult for me to overtake him because he was able to follow Enea [Bastianini] which was crazy. So I just stayed behind him and waited for his tyres to drop. Also, knowing Fabio [Quartararo] was out of the game you could not make a mistake.”

Following Quartararo’s shocking lap one exit after making contact with Marc Marquez which led to him crashing at turn four, Espargaro knew he had to score big points.  

But on a weekend where he expected to fight for the win, Espargaro instead had to focus on rebuilding his confidence after crashing twice on Friday, something he believes put him on the back foot compared to Bagnaia and Bastianini. 

“The pressure was very high to arrive in Aragon because I knew that it was one of the best tracks of the last part of the championship [for Aprilia, himself],” said Espargaro. 

“Maybe I started a little bit too hot and I crashed twice on Friday and so I lost completely the confidence. Saturday was a hard day and I was not able to put the bike in the top ten in FP3. 

“From FP3 I started to build again the confidence and I did a good qualifying, a solid fourth place and in the race I didn’t have the pace to follow Pecco [Bagnaia] and Enea [Bastianini], I knew it. 

“In the race they had something extra all weekend but third place is super good for the championship. I’m happy to be back on the podium.”

Bagnaia takes advantage of ‘huge opportunity’ despite missing out on fifth MotoGP win in a row

Unlike Misano, Bagnaia was unable to fend off the late challenge from Bastianini, however, 20 points for second place has now seen the Ducati rider close to within 10 of Quartararo. 

Knowing that a mistake would have been devastating, Bagnaia was unwilling to take too many risks when he was aware of the pace Bastianini had.

Bagnaia said: “Today was very important not to commit any mistakes because Fabio [Quartararo] was unlucky and gave us a huge opportunity. 

“It was very important in the last lap to finish the race. When I saw that Enea [Bastianini] was so close to me I just tried to be calm and relaxed. 

“If he overtook me then I don’t want to take any risks and just finish the race in the best way possible. 

“If I saw some mistakes then I would try back, but he didn’t in the last lap. I’m happy with the result and I gave my best today. I think today we made a big difference compared to the others.”

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