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Espargaro “angry” Ducati blocked MotoGP Friday format tweak for 2023

Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro says he is “angry” that the riders’ wishes to have MotoGP’s Friday format tweaked for 2023 was stopped by Ducati following a meeting on Thursday.

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing

Alexander Trienitz

As part of MotoGP’s format shake-up for 2023 to include sprint races, the combined order at the end of Friday’s two practice sessions decides which riders go straight to Q2 in qualifying and who has to go through Q1.

The riders requested this to be altered from this year’s British Grand Prix in August, so that only the times at the end of FP2 counted towards qualifying.

However, following a meeting between the manufacturers association (MSMA) on Thursday at the Dutch GP, a change in format for this season was rejected and will take effect from 2024.

Speaking after finishing practice seventh overall at the Dutch GP on Friday, Espargaro was unhappy with this decision, especially as Ducati’s riders apparently felt differently to the manufacturer.

“All riders, it looked like, were pushing to change the Friday schedule to make free practice one ‘free’,” he began.

“But it looks like Ducati does not agree. They voted against this. We asked for this change not for a competitive thing, it was more for safety to avoid crashes in practice one, to be more relaxed and just stress everyone in the last 15 minutes of FP2.

“But it looks like they don’t like the idea. It’s strange because their riders, believe me, were in favour to change that. But the bosses of Ducati don’t.

“So, it will stay like this for the rest of the season.”

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Asked why, if this was a matter of rider safety, Ducati was able to veto the move, Espargaro added: “That’s a very good question, but I don’t think I can answer. I was very angry yesterday.

“I don’t understand why they needed to vote; it is a matter of safety.

“So, why did they give them the chance to vote? it’s weird, but the decision of Ducati is even weirder.

“I mean, they can obviously vote what they want. But I don’t understand. And they didn’t really respect the riders.”

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