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MOTOGP 2023 – GP 14 JAPAN

FIFTH PLACE FOR ALEIX ESPARGARÓ IN THE JAPANESE MOTEGI CHAOS. MAVERICK VIÑALES INVOLVED IN CONTACT ON THE FIRST CORNER

Japan, 1st October 2023 - The Sunday Motegi MotoGP race was certainly not easy on the nerves for fans, teams, and riders. After the rainfall in the morning, the out lap to set up the starting grid was done on a dry track, but under alarming dark clouds covering the Japanese skies. In fact, the rain arrived just after the start, forcing all the riders (some earlier, some later) to return to pit lane for a bike change.

The perfect timing of Aleix, who was already recovering positions, actually shot him into the race lead, backed by a tyre choice which ensured traction and confidence. Only the diminishing water on the track caused him to lose ground, which he promptly recovered when the next rainfall came. The track conditions worsened gradually, especially in terms of visibility, until the red flag came out during the twelfth lap. At the second start, the riders were only able to do their out lap before the conditions of both water on the track and visibility determined the final suspension of the race with Aleix classified in fifth place.

Maverick’s race was substantially compromised on the first corner. After starting well, Viñales was forced to go wide, ending up crashing in the gravel on the escape lane. Back in the saddle – obviously in last place and more than a lap behind – he changed bikes and drew attention in the wet for his decidedly fast pace. The cancellation of the second start, where he would have been starting from pit lane, put an end to any ambitions he may have had of a comeback ride, leaving him understandably frustrated.

Aleix Espargaró (bike no. 41): “All told, a positive day with perhaps my best performance in the wet. After the bike change, we had chosen the soft rear tyre, counting on the fact that when it rains it pours here in Motegi. Instead, on the first laps it was difficult. With not much water on the track, the soft tyre overheated, and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to finish the race.

However, when the rain increased, I began to feel increasingly better. I was making up ground on the riders ahead of me and could have aimed for something higher than fifth place. Unfortunately, visibility was really low, and it got even worse after the red flag and the restart. The decisions taken by Race Direction today were impeccable."

Maverick Viñales (bike no. 12): “My race was over on the first corner when I was forced wide into the gravel, crashing and restarting last with a huge gap. After the bike change, to be honest, my pace in the wet was extremely good, but with so much distance to make up, it would not have been an easy race.

I was hopeful for the restart after the red flag. Even though I would have started from pit lane, at least I would have had another chance."

JAPAN GP, SPRINT RACE, SATURDAY 30 SEPTEMBER 2023. APRILIA DISAPPOINTED IN THE MOTEGI SPRINT RACE. MAVERICK BATTLES TO FINISH NINTH, ALEIX STOPPED BY A TECHNICAL PROBLEM.
It was not a Saturday to remember for the Aprilia camp. Although the third row on the starting grid could be considered respectable, the 12-lap Sprint Race did not bring the results that were hoped for. Maverick struggled with an annoying vibration at the rear of his RS-GP which kept him from doing any better than ninth place. Aleix, on the other hand, had to retire during the eighth lap just as he was battling with Bezzecchi, Marquez, and Zarco for fifth. A disappointment that the Spanish rider hopes to forget quickly.

JAPAN GP, THE PRACTICES, FRIDAY 29 SEPTEMBER 2023. APRILIA COMPETITIVE IN JAPAN. ALEIX GUSHES AT MOTEGI: HE IS THIRD IN THE FIRST DAY. WITH MAVERICK EIGHTH, BOTH RS-GP FACTORY BIKES GAIN DIRECT ACCESS TO Q2 QUALIFYING SESSION. The fears of the eve, dictated by the layout of the Japanese track, have been for the moment erased by the good performance of the two Aprilia factory bikes in the first practice at Motegi. The circuit, on paper, does not support the qualities of the RS-GP at its best but the great work of the engineers and the determination of Aleix and Maverick allowed the Italian team to place the two factory bikes in the top-10 and, consequently, in Q2 for tomorrow's qualifying.

With one lap under the track record (which stood since 2015) Espargaró finished third, also showing good competitiveness as far as pace was concerned. Eighth instead was Viñales, who ran into a few yellow flags during the last time attacks but was always fast throughout the two sessions held today.

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