ESPARGARÓ ON THE THIRD ROW AFTER THE PHILLIP ISLAND QUALIFIERS
WEATHER PERMITTING, GOOD POTENTIAL FOR APRILIA AND THE SPANISH RIDER
After leading the Friday sessions and proving to be fast in FP4 in race setup, the Espargaró-Aprilia duo took on qualifying setting their sights on the first two rows. The result eluded them only because of traffic on the track that Aleix ran into on all of his flying laps. In spite of it all, the Spanish rider rode his RS-GP to the third row with an eighth place time (1’29.271).
In any case, Aleix can count on the good feedback from the fourth session, the one that most reflects the race situation. In addition to his fourth best time, just a shout from the leaders, Espargaró turned a series of fast laps, showing a rather consistent pace. Unless there is a change in the weather, something that is anything but improbable on this track, a top 5 finish seems to be a goal well within reach for the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini.
Sam Lowes had a bit of difficulty in qualifying, struggling to maintain the optimum range of use for the tyres due to the low temperatures. With just a few available laps, the English rookie had to settle for the eighth row.
“I expected more from qualifying after the potential we showed in the other sessions. Unfortunately, I was never able to get in a clean lap because of traffic. There were a few slow riders in front of me and to be honest, I am not able to ride to the limit in these conditions. In any case, we showed that we have a good pace, especially in FP4, which is the session that best reflects our situation for the race. The third row in such a long and demanding race is not a big limit. A few of the riders in front of us don’t seem to have a particularly competitive race pace, so fighting for the top 5 is a realistic goal.”
“I am rather satisfied with our work, although compared to yesterday I had more difficulty maintaining tyre temperature. It was a condition that was quite clear in qualifying, where it is hard to get the tyres into the right temperature range because of the little time available. It’s a vicious cycle: you’re not able to push because you don’t have the right feeling, but you should do just that to warm up the tyres and get them to work right. In the race things are different. We showed that we have a good pace and, as always, my Aprilia is able to manage wear over race distance well.”
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