Aleix Espargaro triumphs in Barcelona: MotoGP victory of routine!

Best time in the second free practice session, pole position including a new record lap in qualifying and finally the sprint victory: MotoGP Saturday in Barcelona could hardly have gone better for local hero Aleix Espargaro. The only thing missing was the fastest race lap, but he deliberately decided not to do that. In the sixth sprint of the 2024 MotoGP season, the 34-year-old veteran delivered a masterpiece and outdid his competitors – not with pure speed, but with all his experience.

The start phase had not gone according to plan for the Aprilia driver. He certainly did not have a bad start from pole position, but the competition around him simply got off to a much better start. Behind Francesco Bagnaia, Pedro Acosta, Raul Fernandez and Brad Binder, Espargaro only entered the first corner in fifth place, and his good friend Jorge Martin passed him on the third lap. Lying in sixth place, the hoped-for home victory suddenly seemed in great danger, especially as his Aprilia colleague Fernandez was putting on a lot of pressure at the front of the field and had already built up a lead of almost a second by the end of the first third of the race.

Aleix Espargaro makes use of MotoGP experience: You have to be tactical!

But Espargaro stayed cool and waited while his competitors made mistake after mistake. First, Raul Fernandez in turn ten, then Brad Binder and finally Francesco Bagnaia in the difficult downhill left-hand bend T5. “I said on Thursday that you can go full throttle on 80 percent of the tracks on the calendar until the end. But there are also a few courses where you have to be tactical, where it’s not just about pure speed,” revealed ‘El Capitano’ on Saturday evening. “I could have driven as fast as them at the beginning, after all I was in pole position. But I told myself that they were going over the limit and wearing out their tires too much. I could see that from behind. I knew they would crash or destroy their front and rear tires. I knew that I would get my chances at the end of the race and I was right.”

A routine victory for Espargaro, who will make his 327th Grand Prix start on Sunday – far more than any other rider. MotoGP superstar Marc Marquez follows with 252 GP appearances. “Before the race, I analyzed the pace of all the riders. I was the only one who had shown that he could do several laps under the 1:39.5 mark. Because they were doing that pace, I knew they were over the limit,” explains Espargaro. “I was able to keep up with that pace, but if I had tried to overtake them, I would have been over the limit too. So I told myself that I had to wait five laps. Then their grip would decrease and I would have my chance.”

Aleix Espargaro was only in sixth place, Photo: LAT Images
Aleix Espargaro was only in sixth place, Photo: LAT Images

MotoGP veteran Aleix Espargaro celebrates: Experience pays off!

The Catalan was proven right: Already on lap four he overtook world championship leader Jorge Martin, who did not play a major role in the battle for the top spots on Saturday. At the start of the eighth lap, the #41 then caught up with Pedro Acosta on the start/finish line after he had come out of the last corner much worse. When Bagnaia then crashed on the last lap, the path to an emotional home victory was finally clear. “I have no words. In terms of results, it couldn’t be better. Pole, sprint victory and all the people in the stands cheering me on. I couldn’t have imagined a better last home GP,” says the Aprilia driver, adding: “The sprint is short, but it’s not qualifying. I’m happy, sometimes experience does pay off.”

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