'I was scared!' – Espargaro thrilled with Portimao placing after crash-heavy qualifying

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Aleix Espargaro conceded he was fearful heading into the final session of Saturday's qualifying ahead of the Portuguese Grand Prix.

A crash-laden Q1 at Portimao saw Remy Gardner and Francesco Bagnaia, who has finished on the podium in his last two races at the Algarve International Circuit, crash, with the latter failing to set a time.

Johann Zarco produced a stunning lap to come out on top in Q2 to take pole and spare Ducati's blushes, finishing ahead of Joan Mir and Espargaro, who across four races this season has collected 50 points, more than in two of his previous five whole seasons with Aprilia (44 points in 2018 and 42 in 2020).

Reigning champion Fabio Quartararo – the winner at Portimao last year – also struggled in the wet, though the Yamaha driver overcame a tricky moment to clinch fifth on the grid, while Marc Marquez, chasing his 100th MotoGP podium this weekend, was left to rue a yellow flag, having initially set the fastest lap.

After negotiating the difficult conditions, a relieved Espargaro was thrilled with his efforts.

He said: "I hate to say it – I was scared! Today I was scared, the wet patches were very slippery.

"When you are sitting in the garage and see many crashes, and all the crashes have been huge. You have to be very focused but you cannot be.

"I tried to feel perfectly the whole track to see where I could push in the last five minutes. I am very happy, this is like a victory because I hate these conditions, so I'm super happy."

Having recorded a time of 1:42.003, Zarco, too, acknowledged the state of the track made assessing where and when to push hard difficult.

"Pretty, pretty happy. I did not expect it to be so good. It was so tricky," the Frenchman said.

"I was pretty happy to go straight through Q2. I couldn't analyse the Q1 well. The best strategy was to stay on track, do the full 15 minutes with the same tyre to get confidence with the track, it worked pretty well for me."

Mir, meanwhile, revelled in taking a place on the front row for just the second time in his MotoGP career.

"In normal conditions we always struggle to make one lap but in tough conditions we can give a little but more," the Suzuki Ecstar rider said.

"My feeling is improving. We are following good steps, we are improving and it looks like when we make a good step [forward], we don't go back. So it's important. Let's see if we can go faster tomorrow, but it will be a hard race."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting