After a frustrating 13th place in the first race, where Espargaro struggled to overtake, the Spaniard went on the offensive in Sunday’s second outing.
But the lack of acceleration from the RS-GP meant Espargaro had to take risks with some ‘on the limit’ braking moves in order to climb forwards from 13th on the grid.
One of those moves was a Turn 1 block pass on title contender Andrea Dovizioso, struggling for rear tyre grip by mid-distance, which caused the Ducati rider to run slightly wide.
“Yeah, I hate to overtake like I did to Dovi, but also to Lecuona – I didn’t touch, but it was very close to the limit. Also Crutchlow,” Espargaro said.
“The Aprilia doesn’t accelerate like the other bikes so when I arrive in the brakes I’m not close to them. So I have to recover the space that I lose in acceleration, plus make the overtake.
“This is why in last week’s race I didn’t make any overtakes at all.
“But today I had more commitment, I was focussed to do a better race, I felt better and I risked more. I think I was clean, but I’m forced to be in the limit to overtake.
“I feel very sorry for Dovi, I know he’s fighting for the title. I tried to be very clean, but the Ducati is very fast so to overtake him with the Aprilia I had to risk more.”
But all of Espargaro’s efforts would be in vain.
Having worked his way to ninth place with just 3 laps to go, and still within sight of fourth, an engine problem forced him to retire.
“I don’t know what to say. The results are not the ones that everybody was expecting, myself as well. Last weekend we had many small problems technically, but we could finish the race and today we were doing a better race,” he said.
“I improved a lot the set-up of the bike, I think I did a very very good pace, considering starting from P13. I think for example my race pace has been faster than Zarco who finished fifth.
“But every time, like in the past, we ask a lot of the engine to be in the draft of the fast bikes for a long time. The engine stops. So today was the same. Nothing I can do.”
Espargaro insisted that he wasn’t angry, highlighting that he’s doing all he can as a rider.
That includes Saturday’s qualifying time, which – although not good enough to progress past Q1 – would have put him seventh on the grid if it been posted in Q2.
“My job is to give the maximum I can. This weekend I’m very satisfied with myself, sincerely I’m not angry,” he said.
“Yesterday I did a ‘47.3 with the Aprilia in Aragon, just four-tenths from pole position, almost a lap record. I think it was a super lap, more than a second faster than my team-mate. And today I was just three seconds from fourth place I the race,” Espargaro said.
“So I can’t do anything else. Aprilia have to react. Aprilia have to improve the bike. But they know. So I will keep working and insisting.”
Team-mate Bradley Smith finished 15th and last, to take the final point.
Espargaro is 18th in the world championship with three rounds to go, with Smith in 21st.