Espargaro set to ‘risk more than ever’ in bid to rescue MotoGP title hopes

Aleix Espargaro. Picture:

Aleix Espargaro is willing to “risk more than ever” in a bid to prevent his MotoGP title hopes from being all but extinguished today at Buriram.

The Aprilia rider fell to 25 points, the equivalent of a full race, behind championship leader Fabio Quartararo after the eco mode blunder a week ago at Motegi.

That gap looks likely to increase, with just three rounds to go after this weekend’s Thailand Grand Prix, given Espargaro could only manage 13th on the starting grid while his key rivals made the first two rows.

All MotoGP sessions at Buriram have been dry so far, in contrast to weather forecasts, but the Catalan is set to throw caution to the wind if rain does fall in the race.

He is also hoping that the six Ducatis which surround Monster Energy Yamaha’s Quartararo on the grid will help his cause.

“My pace is not a disaster,” said Espargaro.

“It’s not as fast as the best but I’m not super far [away].

“Starting 13th will be difficult. It can rain; I am positive. There are many Ducatis with young riders in front.

“It will not be easy for Fabio to fight with the Ducatis so it’s still open.

“If it rains, I will risk more than ever; all or nothing. I have to.

“If it’s dry? It’s difficult to make miracles.

“I will ride with different tyres to all the Yamahas, Ducatis and KTMs.”

Aprilia Racing has struggled more than most with the lack of grip on offer in Buriram this weekend, and Maverick Viñales looked particularly frustrated with regularly running wide in practice.

Both he and Espargaro went into Qualifying 1 and while ‘Top Gun’ only managed seventh for the session and thus 17th on the grid, Espargaro gave himself a fighting chance.

He ragged his RS-GP to a 1:30.202s on his second run, a lap which put #41 on top at that point, but it would prove 0.103s too slow to advance.

“FP4, I tried to be competitive with a used tyre; it was not enough,” the 33-year-old recounted.

“In qualifying, I braked super-late and super-smooth but the bike doesn’t go forward.

“It is frustrating, 30.2… I was satisfied with my lap but it’s not enough.

“It is difficult to ride faster than what I am doing.”

Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) has qualified third and Quartararo fourth for the 26-lapper, which starts at 19:00 AEDT.

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