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MotoGP French GP

Espargaro unimpressed by MotoGP stewards' approach after French GP incidents

Aleix Espargaro was not impressed with MotoGP stewards’ approach to incidents between riders in the French GP, saying they only take action in case there is a crash.

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

Aprilia rider Espargaro had a run-in with two different riders during last Sunday's race at Le Mans as he tumbled from running third in the opening stages to a disappointing ninth at the finish.

On lap seven, Enea Bastianini threw his Ducati up the inside of Espargaro at Turns 9/10 while chasing him for sixth, with the Spaniard having to take the escape road before rejoining the track in eighth.

Then on the last lap, Espargaro came to blows with Pramac rider Franco Morbidelli at the final turn, costing Espargaro a place not only to Morbidelli but also KTM’s Brad Binder.

No penalties were handed out in the two clashes, but Bastianini did have to complete a long lap for cutting the chicane while overtaking the Spaniard.

Speaking after the race, Espargaro was puzzled as to why stewards didn’t take the two incidents more seriously.

“The pace was good enough to finish in the top five but Enea hit me at very, very high speed. Luckily it was the run-off area,” he said.

“I don't understand why he didn't get the penalty for the action and then I lost a lot of time behind Diggia [Fabio Di Giannantonio], behind [Fabio] Quartararo. I overtook them a couple of times but they overtook me again.

Photo by: Marc Fleury

"Then on the last chicane Franco hit me very hard and even Binder overtook me. Then he apologised after the chequered flag but also no penalty. Nothing I could do, really. It was a very strange race.”

Espargaro later clarified that there was no contact between him and Bastianini, but that he had to take avoiding action or risk crashing into his Ducati rival.

The 34-year-old feels the stewards only take into account the impact of an incident, rather than the incident itself, while deciding whether a rider should be penalised or not.

"[With] Enea I had to pick up the bike, it was very quick. But Franco also, If I didn't pick up the bike I would also crash.

“So the feeling is that they just put a penalty if you crash. But you have to judge and penalise the action, not the outcome, not the result.

“If I hold the line we both had a big fly, we were very fast and I saw the replay, he [Bastianini] was far when he attacked me. I didn't really understand.

“I lost my race. I wasn't that bad at that stage of the race. Not really to fight for the victory, for the podium, but I was good. But I lost six seconds there.”

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

When asked if he planned on speaking to the race control and explaining his point of view, Espargaro said that it would be to no avail.

“Nothing will change, so, no,” he said. “I'm relaxed, I don't care.

“They saw the images, they didn't act. They say, ‘I would like that you come and explain’. We try. But nothing changes, I don't mind to keep going.”

Espargaro’s comments follow some strong criticism against chief FIM steward Freddie Spencer from LCR rider Johann Zarco, ironically for a collision involving Espargaro in Spain, although the Frenchman later conceded that his outburst was “unprofessional.”

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Morbidelli has previous history with Espargaro, with the latter seen slapping the helmet of the then-Yamaha rider after the two came together in practice for last year’s Qatar Grand Prix.

Asked to explain his side of the story in France, the Italian said: “I just tried an overtake, an overtaking maneovure in the last corner and he didn't look very happy about it. But I'm used to his behaviour now.

“We didn't even touch.”

When it was put to him that Espargaro claimed the two would have collided if hadn’t taken avoiding action, Morbidelli echoed a cheeky comment from Formula 1 champion Max Verstappen: “If my mother had balls, she would be my father.”

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