Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro admits he is “very angry” about qualifying 14th for the MotoGP Portuguese Grand Prix as he felt he could have fought for the podium.

Espargaro came through from the fifth row in the grid to score a season-best eighth in last Sunday’s race at the Algarve International Circuit to cap of the 2020 campaign 17th in the championship.

The Aprilia rider’s pace was very comparable to that of podium finishers Jack Miller on the Pramac Ducati and Petronas SRT’s Franco Morbidelli, but ended up 13 seconds adrift owing to his poor qualifying.

“Angry” about this, Espargaro admits he’s also upset as he “expected” to be able to have races like he did in Portugal throughout 2020 on the RS-GP.

“Sincerely, I’m satisfied with my race,” Espargaro said.

“I’m very angry about qualifying because today I think we had pace enough to fight… I know it sounds quite big to say podium, but it was quite easy for me to stay in 1m40s low all race, even in the last two laps.

“I could see on my dash that I was showing red helmets [fastest sectors], almost under 1m40s into 1m39s, which are very fast lap times.

“I make many overtakes during the race, and then when I had a gap to me and somebody in front of two seconds I was able to just close this gap, overtake and again.

“I enjoyed a lot riding this bike. When I said this year the Aprilia RS-GP is growing and I felt strong, I wanted to prove it in races like this one.

“So, I’m satisfied but at the same time I’m angry because I expected to be all season like this.”

Espargaro also paid tribute to “unique” Cal Crutchlow, whose full-time racing career ended on Sunday, with the pair exchanging crash helmets after the grand prix.

“Has been a pleasure to race many years with Cal Crutchlow,” Espargaro said.

“He is a rider I felt very close to, I like his lifestyle and his approach to the life and the racing life also on and off track.

“I would like to say to everybody that was the last race for a unique rider and that has been a pleasure.

“Regarding the race, actually it was a bit tricky because I overtook him quite aggressively in the last part of the race and I didn’t want to touch him!”

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