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MotoGP Valencia GP

Espargaro: Tyre penalty deciding title "worse" image for MotoGP than Morbidelli slap

Aleix Espargaro has warned that a tyre pressure penalty deciding the 2023 MotoGP title on Sunday would be worse for the image of the championship than his Franco Morbidelli slap.

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team, Maverick Vinales, Aprilia Racing Team

The 2023 MotoGP championship battle between Francesco Bagnaia and Jorge Martin will be decided in Sunday’s grand prix final in Valencia.

After winning the sprint on Saturday, Martin now trails Bagnaia by just 14 points, with the latter needing to finish at least fifth to ensure his second crown.

Saturday saw the first tyre pressure penalties issued in a sprint, with Morbidelli and Luca Marini getting three-second penalties for committing a second offence this season of running underneath the minimum front pressure.

Both Martin and Bagnaia have received an official warning for this already this season, meaning a transgression in the grand prix would result in a three-second penalty.

This has given rise to fears that the title could be decided by something totally out of the riders’ control.

Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro says this outcome would be a worse image for MotoGP than him slapping Morbidelli during practice in Qatar.

“Yesterday [Friday], the safety commission was one topic,” Espargaro began.

“We push a lot Carlos Ezpeleta [Dorna sporting director], because we said a lot to Carlos that it’s not about Michelin – it’s about the championship.

“This rule is going to ruin the championship. And the rules are made by the championship, not by the brands.

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

“So, we asked Carlos to protect us because, with this rule next year, the standings are going to be based on the penalties – 100%.

“Tomorrow [Sunday] will be more problems because the temperature for tomorrow looks like it’s going to be colder, four, five degrees less.

“So, it means to understand the right pressure is going to be more difficult.

“F****** hell. If one penalty decides the championship, the image for the championship is worse than what I did to Morbidelli.”

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Morbidelli added that “something is not quite working here” with the rule and hopes for a “proactive” solution to the problem.

“If you want to speak about the regulation or the tyres, something is not quite working here,” he said.

“We can all understand that something is not right and something needs to be better. We can all understand that. And I hope that clever and proactive solutions will be taken.”

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