After losing three places off the start, Espargaro had to try and recover while Bagnaia and Quartararo stretched away.
The Aprilia rider was initially helped by Marquez as the Repsol Honda rider pushed a fast starting Takaaki Nakagami wide at turn 13 (lap one), however, progress was then slowed behind Marquez and Miller as the two were proving to be exceptional on the brakes.
Espargaro was visibly quicker in the corners, so much so that he nearly ran into the back of Marquez on two separate occasions at the same turn 13.
Starts ‘are a disaster’ says Espargaro after MotoGP Jerez
“It was quite a frustrating race. I know what we need to improve the most and it’s the clutch. Our starts are a disaster this season. I lost a couple of positions, then I overtook Nakagami but it was impossible to overtake Marc and Jack,” said Espargaro in the post-race press conference.
“I was very angry because I had a lot more pace but they braked very late and were stopping in the middle of the corner. I couldn’t really carry my speed in the corner.
“I saw how Fabio and Pecco were going away but it was impossible to overtake.”
The Argentina MotoGP winner felt a mistake was coming from Marquez, and he was right!
As the final few laps approached, Espargaro looked more and more ominous behind Marquez, however, the same was to be said for the eight-time world champion.
Marquez, who took several looks at going down the inside of Miller at turn 13, instead chose an unconventional place to make his overtake.
Marquez slid past the Australian at turn five, before nearly sliding down the road later in that lap. As he tipped into turn 13, Marquez lost the front before producing a miraculous save. And although he pinned it coming out of the corner, it wasn’t before Espargaro came through.
Recalling the battle, Espargaro continued: “If I tried, I would hit Marc and crash, for sure. He braked very late so today I decided that I will not be there fighting for the victory. I knew that with forty minutes (race distance) they were both going wider and I knew that they would make a mistake.
“When I overtook Jack in the last corner I saw Marc going wide. I passed both of them with I think five laps to go and I was more than half a second faster in the next few laps.
“I was able to stay in 38s low which was a good pace. I’m not sure if I had the pace today to fight with them (Quartararo and Bagnaia) for the victory, but at least I could have been closer than I finished. I’m very happy with third place here in Jerez.”
Espargaro will ‘try’ to push Quartararo ‘until the end’ in title battle
Espargaro’s brilliant podium finish means he’s now seven points behind Quartararo heading into Le Mans in two weeks time.
Asked if he feels like a serious contender, the Aprilia rider had no hesitation: “Yes! I mean Fabio was the champion last season and is leading.
“But in six races which is 33% of the championship we are just seven points back. I think this train passes just once in my case so I will try to get by.
“I know when Fabio and Pecco are in their best moments like today that I miss something. We still have to improve the bike. But consistency will be the key and for the moment my championship has been very good. I will try to push Fabio until the end.”