Aleix Espargaro and Aprilia took another step towards the front of MotoGP with a debut front row for the RS-GP in Germany.
Things got even better when the Spaniard grabbed the holeshot into Turn 1 of the race, with only eventual winner Marc Marquez able to squeeze past the #41 during the early laps.
But the arrival of a brief rain shower combined with ‘on the limit’ mid-corner issues saw a ‘frustrated’ Espargaro fade back to seventh place.
“I don’t know what happened in the race but I couldn’t follow them in mid-corner,” Espargaro said. “They have a lot more traction than me, so I risked everywhere trying to recover but it’s always too much on the limit. Sincerely, I’m frustrated because I was really expecting much better than seventh place.
“We realised in other circuits the engine makes the difference, today no excuse about the engine,” he added. “The engine was not the most important thing and I could follow Marc quite good because this was not really a demanding circuit for power.
“But especially on traction I suffered a lot. So, the thing is not just to have a strong engine, but also to put the power to the ground.
“They have like another control we don’t have on the electronics side in mid-corner. It’s like they put cruise control in mid-corner and just disappear turning and I’m fighting against the highside every single corner.
“To ride like this, I know it’s MotoGP and I know I have to ride in the limit every moment I jump on the bike, but maybe not that much. The stress is very, very high and I can’t fight for the podium yet.
“I always want more but the reality is that we have made a good step forward compared to 2020, and not just in one circuit or in qualifying, but everywhere and every circumstance. So this makes me happy.
“We are a lot more in front than other seasons, but I want to finish in front when the chequered flag is out. So it’s not enough for the moment.”
Espargaro credited Marquez for being especially ‘brave’ during the brief rain shower, allowing the Honda rider to pull a slight advantage over the field and go on to claim his first win since 2019.
“I have huge respect to Marc obviously, but sincerely today I didn’t expect him to win,” Espargaro said. “He’s been brave on the moment of the race when the rain arrived because actually we were talking this after the race with Marc and Fabio.
“It was not just a couple of drops on the screens. I almost crashed in turn eight, and the track was slippery for four or five laps.
“So, he was brave enough to make the difference there, and then to maintain for the win. Congrats to him. He’s very fast here, we know it. He made the difference because to win with an advantage in MotoGP now is not easy, so he did a really good, strong race. “
Rookie team-mate Lorenzo Savadori crashed out of the Sachsenring race.
Espargaro heads to this weekend’s Assen round holding ninth in the world championship.