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MotoGP Japanese GP

Espargaro explains ‘eco map’ issue that forced pre-race bike swap in Japan MotoGP

Aleix Espargaro says his Aprilia team forgetting to switch from an ‘eco’ engine map before the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix forced him into his pre-start bike swap.

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

Espargaro came into Sunday’s Motegi race third in the standings and just 17 points from championship leader Fabio Quartararo.

The Aprilia rider qualified ahead of Quartararo and Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia in sixth, but was forced to start the race from pitlane when an issue developed on the sighting lap to the grid which meant he had to swap to his second bike.

Espargaro explains it was an ‘eco’ map that is installed for the pre-race lap to the grid to save on fuel - which is then deleted and replaced by the proper race engine mapping – that caused his issues.

“Eco map we call it, to save fuel, the bike doesn’t go more than 100km/h, no more than 5000rpm,” Espargaro, who ended the race with no points in 16th, explained when asked what the problem was.

“So, I tried everything on the sighting lap and it was not working. I changed to the second bike in the pits, but that bike had the soft rear tyre and I can’t ride with that tyre.

“I knew it from the beginning, the bike was just pushing the front.

“I just tried to stay on track. I was also very nervous and making a lot of mistakes.

“So I decided to stay out on track to wait for the red flag or whatever, but it didn’t arrived.”

 

Espargaro says he could have “100%” won today had it not been for his issues, noting that the soft tyre fitted to his second bike hindered his charge.

Asked what was possible without the issue, Espargaro added: “Win, 100%.

“It’s the first weekend due to the weather conditions obviously that I didn’t ride bike two at all.

“The soft tyre I hate it, from the last three races I never used it.

“Even in the qualifying I suffered. And even like that I was in 1m46.0s [in the race] for many laps.

“With the medium tyre on my other bike, I could have stayed in 45.5, at least at level of Jack. So, it’s a shame.”

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Espargaro doesn’t believe the fact we are in the midst of a triple-header which began in Spain last week played a part in the mistake happening with his engine map.

“I don’t think so,” he said when asked if fatigue caused the problem.

“I’m tired, everyone is tired and it’s our job. It’s a mistake that can happen anywhere.

“It’s a big, big mistake and this cannot happen. But we are human. We are a team and we will try to win the title.”

Espargaro remains third in the standings and is now 25 points behind Quartararo, who was eighth in the race while Bagnaia crashed out on the last lap.

But he says the fact he wasn’t able to capitalise on his rivals’ problems on a “rare” weekend where he was faster than both makes him feel worse about his own race.

“This is worse. For me this is worse, because I lost a big opportunity,” he said of his rivals also have difficult races.

“If they finished first and second, it would have been worse for the championship but I wouldn’t have been that sad.

“But I’m very sad because I knew today I was faster than them.

“And it’s very difficult to be faster than Pecco and Fabio, it’s very rare for me. So, it was a big waste.”

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