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Espargaro "knew Binder had touched the green" in Assen MotoGP battle

Aleix Espargaro said he didn't try a last-lap lunge on Brad Binder at MotoGP's Dutch Grand Prix as he was certain his podium-contending rival would revive a track limits penalty.

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

The Aprilia rider proved correct with his assessment of Binder’s mistake at Turn 8 on the last lap, with confirmation of the South African’s one-place demotion coming moments after the chequered flag.

While that meant that KTM rider Binder had managed to lose a podium finish twice on the same weekend, after also being demoted from third in the sprint race, Aprilia was able to celebrate its first rostrum since Maverick Vinales came home second at the year’s opening Grand Prix in Portugal.

Though Binder said he hadn’t been aware of the mistake, Espargaro said after the race: “It was clear. I knew that Brad was struggling in the last laps with the soft tyre, he was sliding everywhere.

“He accelerated very early at that corner [Turn 8] to try to protect the next corner, because I was very close, and he made a mistake. I knew clearly from the moment he touched the green.

“I feel sorry for him, but rules are rules.

“We had a good fight. He’s a very talented rider and I think we’re the fastest ones without a [Ducati] red bullet. He and KTM are going to be our main rivals in the second part of the season.”

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Espargaro reported his run to a first podium finish of the year was as stressful as it was calculated.

“I had contact with Luca Marini at Turn 1 and broke the right wing,” he said.

Brad Binder, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Brad Binder, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“On the slow corners, it was quite good, and in the chicanes. But I was losing a lot of time in Turn 6 and Turn 12, where I had been gaining time all weekend.

“Especially at the beginning of the race with the full tanks, it was very difficult. The bike didn’t want to turn and I didn’t understand what was going on.

“It was a very stressful race. I knew that overtaking Brad was going to be almost impossible, so trying to be close and push him to the limit was my plan. And it worked.”

The result moved Espargaro up to eighth in the standings ahead of MotoGP's summer break, with the championship resuming at Silverstone in August.

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