Pressure concerns led Espargaro to start with “flat tyre” in MotoGP Austrian GP

Pressure concerns led Espargaro to start with “flat tyre” in MotoGP Austrian GP

MotoGP’s new tyre pressure rules, enforced from the British GP, have been met with widespread criticism from riders.

In a dry race now, riders must complete 50% of a grand prix distance and 30% of a sprint inside the minimum pressures set by Michelin – which was 1.7 bar on the rear, and 1.88 bar on the front.

Ostensibly introduced as a safety measure, many riders have noted that the high front minimum is dangerous as any pressure above 2.0 bar strips the tyre of grip and braking stability.

Rising front pressures are more likely when riding in packs, particularly due to the turbulence generated by modern bikes’ aerodynamics, with the hard braking nature of the Red Bull Ring posing a major challenge for riders.

Having struggled in Saturday’s sprint, and noting how pressure management has been an issue for the Aprilia in general, Espargaro says he was forced to start last Sunday’s grand prix with a front tyre that felt flat.

“In the sprint, we had our record [for tyre pressure], we had one of the highest pressures,” Espargaro, who was ninth in the GP, explained.

“And [in the grand prix] we started very, very low, like a flat tyre. It was unbelievable. You cannot imagine how low we start and we are having some troubles also in Aprilia because we are one of the bikes that has higher front temperature.

“We reached big numbers, like our record, in terms of front temperature, the four Aprilias. So, we need to work on this area.”

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Start woes continue to hinder Vinales

Maverick Vinales qualified in second at the Red Bull Ring, but in both races suffered poor launches.

The first resulted in him getting involved in a multi-rider tangle, which Pramac’s Jorge Martin was deemed to have instigated, in the sprint race.

And in the grand prix, Vinales dropped from second to 11th in the opening turns having one again failed to move forward off the line.

A problem that plagued Vinales during his Yamaha days, Aprilia has tried to fix it through changes to its clutch and launch control electronics set-up, but seemingly to no avail for the Spaniard.

“I push the guys so much because it’s something we must improve,” he said of the RS-GP’s starts, having recovered to sixth in Sunday’s race.

“Same rhythm we did today, starting from the front, we were on the podium. For us, it’s mandatory to improve it, there’s no other way.

Maverick Vinales, Aprilia Racing Team

Maverick Vinales, Aprilia Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“But as a rider, I cannot do anything else. I’m doing all I can, all that they ask me to do. It’s something the technicians have to improve.

“In the end, I think we take out the maximum from the bike, we must be happy. We want to win, this is clear. And I think I have the potential to do it.

“But when you give your maximum, you have to accept the result and improve.

“On paper, this track was not good, it was good for other factories. Now [coming up is] Montmelo, Misano, which seems better for us.

“So, we’ll see. We must be ready for the opportunity and it’s what we’re building up. The confidence is there, when I can be in front I am there.”

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