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MotoGP Spanish GP

MotoGP Jerez poleman Espargaro was “angry” when rain fell before qualifying

Aprilia MotoGP rider Aleix Espargaro says he was “angry” that rain fell prior to Spanish Grand Prix qualifying as the eventual poleman had just one bike to use for Q2.

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

Espargaro snatched his first pole of the 2023 season in a dramatic qualifying at Jerez, the Spaniard beating KTM’s Jack Miller by 0.221 seconds with a final lap of 1m37.216s.

Light rain started to fall prior to the 15-minute pole shootout getting underway, with that precipitation carrying on for the first half of Q2.

Espargaro was unable to test the conditions on wet tyres first because he destroyed one of his RS-GPs in a crash in FP3 prior to qualifying, forcing him to gamble on slicks and hope for the best.

“Has been a crazy morning,” Espargaro said. “I felt good from yesterday, so we decided to try an aerodynamic package and unfortunately I had a small crash.

“When I saw the rain I was a bit angry and disappointed because we just had one bike.

“So, I didn’t have the gamble to try the rain tyres and then slicks.

“So, I said to my guys let’s try the slicks. I go out and tried my best and no worries.

“I did the mistake in the morning and it is how it is. But no worries, I controlled everything till the last lap and I pushed.”

Jack Miller, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Jack Miller, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

What the rest of the front row said

Miller set the early pace in Q2 on his KTM and was on course for his first pole of the season, but had to settle for second behind Espargaro.

Despite this, he says this result is “a major bonus” for the sprint race later today and Sunday’s grand prix given how difficult it is to overtake at Jerez.

“I gave it a good crack,” Miller said. “It was unsure because the rain was on again, off again. I sort of looked at the track.

“For 30 seconds, I was convinced it would be wet [tyres]. 30 seconds later I said ‘we’re going dries’.

“It was so dark over at Turn 1, tried to do one lap on the slicks, so that’s what I did.

“I went out, bust out a lap. It came down a little bit more but then it eased of.

“The pace got hotter and hotter. Each lap you push your luck with the kerbs a bit more, hoping they’ll be ready at that point. This is a hard track to pass on, so this is a major bonus for the weekend.”

Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing

Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Pramac’s Jorge Martin also only had one bike to use in Q2 after a crash in FP3 but managed to complete the front row.

“Well I think I needed one more lap to make the pole position,” Martin said. “Anyway, I’m happy with my performance during all the weekend. I feel like we are one of the strongest.

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“It was difficult conditions for us because I crashed in FP3, so I only had one bike.

“So, it’s difficult to understand the situations because we cannot make one and one. But I’m happy about the strategy, we make the first row. But the important things are later and I feel like one of the strongest.”

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