While yesterday’s Catalan GP saw an absolute masterclass with title defender Fabio Quartararo’s ‘untouchable’ win, the race also resulted in absolute frustration for Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro, who battled for a hard-fought 2nd place, only to throw it away on the very final lap.
The Catalan native started off strong on the weekend, offering a blazing pole-position qualifier. Quartararo managed to overtake Espargaro on the first corner, charging ahead of a horrific collision between Takaki Nakagami, Alex Rins, and Francesco Bagnaia.
He then continued to pull ahead of the competition, making consistent gains on the track’s tight final sector. Meanwhile, Espargaro spent the majority of the race, fighting off Pramac Racing’s Jorge Martin and Johann Zarco.
Despite a cracking overtake from Martin and Zarco’s late-game hard tyre advantage, Espargaro managed to wrestle back his second place one more, before his disastrous last-lap screw-up. As he blazed past the straight with an all-time lap record in the bag, all seemed good for the 32-year-old rider, until he enthusiastically smacked his tank, and casually zoomed off course, while waving to a dismayed home crowd.
It turned out that Aleix had miscounted his laps, and decided to celebrate too early. For the Pramac riders, this was an absolute godsend. “I thought he broke down,” said Jorge Martin, who seemed confused with his opponent’s strange behaviour on the last lap. Sensing an opportunity, Martin, Johann, as well as Suzuki’s Joan Mir zoomed past Aleix, who soon realised that he had committed the MotoGP mistake of the century.
The embarrassing blunder resulted in a costly 9-point loss, pulling him 22 points away from Quartararo’s championship lead. Absolutely gutted by this, the rider went straight to his crew who tried to cheer him up. Inconsolable, Aleix broke down for the first time since his historic win earlier this year, and then went on to make a statement about his mistake.
As one of the sport’s biggest underdog stories in recent years, Aleix has become something of a fan favourite for his incredible work on the Aprilia RS-GP this season. Naturally, plenty of MotoGP enthusiasts flocked to social media with some jokes, memes, and plenty of support for a mistake we’re sure will never be repeated on the grid anytime soon:
MotoGP will return on June 19th, with the Liqui Moly Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland to be held at the Sachsenring in Germany.
(Featured Image Credits: MotoGP, Dorna)