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Tyres caused 'unbelievable' slow MotoGP race, says Espargaro

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia, Spanish MotoGP

Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro says what he considers an unbelievably slow race pace during the Spanish Grand Prix shows that Michelin's front tyre "needs to improve a lot".

Michelin's MotoGP return for 2016 started with a spate of front-end crashes for riders in late-'15 tests, but work improved the offering by the time racing started.

Instead it was the rear that caused problems this time last year, with performance sacrificed for safety in the wake of Scott Redding's failure in Argentina.

Following a year of further development, Sunday's race time of 45m26.827s for Dani Pedrosa was only two seconds quicker than Valentino Rossi's last season in similar conditions, and 29.581s slower than Jorge Lorenzo's race record on Bridgestones in the cooler 2015 race.

Espargaro said his quiet race to ninth was a "drama", trying not to crash, citing an as-new slider on his right knee as evidence of how little he could push.

Having struggled with the front end of the RS-GP in recent rounds, Espargaro conceded he and Aprilia had work to do in Monday's post-race test.

However, when asked if the low-grip track surface and hot temperatures were exacerbating the problem, Espargaro indicated the front tyre was a big factor.

"We were riding slower than Moto2, street bikes," he said.

"So this unbelievable. Impossible. We spend a lot of millions to come here and lap slower than Spanish championship superbikes.

"The tyre needs to improve a lot. The problem was not to be fast, the problem was to stay on the bike. It was one of the most difficult races for me.

"I had the harder option but for me when the track temperature is like this as soon as you release the front brake just losing, losing, no weight, no pushing to the ground."

Espargaro's average lap time during Sunday's 27-lap MotoGP race was 1m42.150s, slower than Alex Marquez's Moto2 pole time of 1m42.080s, but not his average race lap of 1m44.174s.

Across two races, the winners's average lap time during last October's round of the FIM CEV Superbike championship was 1m45.126s.

MICHELIN WANTS TO IMPROVE

With track temperatures of 41C, one degree up on fourth practice on Saturday and the 2016 race, Michelin's MotoGP project leader Nicolas Goubert conceded conditions "made grip levels very difficult" for riders, and said his firm wants to improve.

"The surface is always quite slippery, but as the temperatures rise the adhesion reduces further and this creates issues that the riders didn't have to contend with on the other days this weekend," he said.

"The guys out there really had to manage their tyres to get the best performance, and it is something that we will have to look at for the next time we visit Jerez if the track temperature is very high again."

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