until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


‘He’s unbelievable’ – Why Espargaro can’t stomach Marquez tactics

by Simon Patterson
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Six-time MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez and Argentine Grand Prix winner Aleix Espargaro have ignited a war of words during free practice for this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, with the two having a difference of opinion about the Repsol Honda rider’s strategy in the closing minutes of FP2.

Marquez, struggling again this weekend as he continues to adapt to both the 2022 Honda RC213V and his own physical limitations following two years of repeated injuries, waited in the final moments of the session to catch the Aprilia rider and latch onto his rear wheel – something that he stressed afterwards was part of the sport.

It triggered a reaction on track from Espargaro right away, and he made his feelings known about Marquez’s actions as he crossed the line, causing his rival to laugh it off as typical Espargaro theatrics.

“It’s normal with Aleix,” he joked when asked about the run-in by The Race. “It’s something that… this is motorcycling. Aleix always complains, but if this year he is fast, he needs to be proud that we are looking for his slipstream. It was always the opposite [in the past], this year we are looking for his slipstream because he is third in the championship.

“He is very good and MotoGP will be like this. You are looking for the fast riders to improve the lap, but in this case and in this practice I was just riding because I was with a bike that I don’t like [having crashed the preferred of his two Hondas earlier].

“I didn’t try to follow anybody, and in the end I waited more time because I didn’t want to have any problem with him.”

However, Espargaro told a different story to Marquez when asked about it by The Race after the conclusion of the day, which he and Marquez ended in 13th and 19th respectively.

Instead of agreeing that Marquez had simply happened upon him on track, he insisted that the Honda man was waiting on him.

“It looks like I’m all the time crying, but it’s unbelievable,” he said. “I don’t know what this guy is doing. Everybody saw it. My brother almost crashed in T13, then [Miguel] Oliveira, then [Remy] Gardner, then me. I went out on track and there was no one on track. I went onto the back straight and there was nobody on the back straight. And then he was stopped in the middle of the track waiting for me. One minute! Unbelievable.

Marc Marquez Honda MotoGP Jerez

“Maybe yes, I lost the concentration and this is why I’m 13th, this is my fault 100%. But it’s unbelievable. I get mad, because he doesn’t give you two seconds then catch you – he’s touching your exhaust and all the time I can hear the bike and I can’t focus on my line. I’m working, and I cannot [focus]. And he is Marc Marquez. My mind cannot understand.”

While he was left fuming at Marquez, though, Espargaro reserved his real anger for the people he believes are responsible for his actions continuing: MotoGP’s regularly-under-fire race control and stewards.

The Aprilia rider believes that as a result of stewards’ focus on touring in the Moto3 class they’ve allowed MotoGP riders to get away with equally severe rule infringements, and questioned why the system used to police Moto3 couldn’t be introduced for the premier class, too.

That automated system, first introduced by the British Superbike series to detect when wet races should be stopped (another bone of contention in MotoGP after last weekend’s multi-rider Moto2 crash), flags up when riders are slow over successive sectors, allowing the stewards to penalise those who spend too long cruising around.

“I said ‘go, go, go’, but he doesn’t care,” Espargaro explained of when he caught Marquez. “He’s just unbelievable. But I won’t blame him, I’ll blame the people in race direction. He can do whatever he wants and I’m no one to tell him how to ride, but the people are all the time talking about Moto3. Moto3? MotoGP is worse. What the f**k are they doing?

Aleix Espargaro Aprilia MotoGP Jerez

“You think that it’s normal that one guy with eight titles is waiting on the track for an Aprilia to follow? He can do it, he can do whatever he wants, but what the hell are the people of race direction doing?

“I’m nobody to say what they need, but it’s ridiculous.”

Espargaro wasn’t the only rider left less than happy with Marquez on Friday at Jerez, either, with Marquez and Repsol Honda team-mate Pol Espargaro catching out Tech3 KTM rookie Remy Gardner on a fast lap.

The younger Espargaro found his team-mate on the entry to the final corner at Jerez, forcing him to sit up out of his own fast lap, almost making contact with Gardner in the process – before Gardner (running deep into the turn) was then also almost collected by Marquez as he rejoined without looking after cruising around the outside of the corner.

“I dunno, they were just in the middle [of the track],” said the Australian. “I was on a PB [personal best] lap, and they were just going like that and I didn’t know where to go. If I had done that, I’d be starting from the back of the grid or pitlane, but you know…!”

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