Aleix Espargaro has apologised to his team after his costly blunder at the Catalan Grand Prix handed Fabio Quartararo a further advantage in the MotoGP championship.

Quartararo was cruising to first place on Sunday as title rival Espargaro seemed set to finish second in Barcelona.

But Espargaro inexplicably started waving to the crowd as he began the final lap, incorrectly believing the race had finished and he had secured second on the podium.

That ended a four-podium race streak for Espargaro, who slipped to fifth, and he sits 22 points behind leader Quartararo in the standings.

The Aprilia rider was quick to apologise for his mistake after the race as he explained he had misread the circuit's timing tower when keeping an eye on the lap count.

"I'm sorry. That's the only thing that I can say, sorry to my team. It's completely my fault," Espargaro told reporters.

"My people [with the pit board] were the first ones [out of the last corner], so I had no time to watch the lap. Some laps I had no time to look at the laps [remaining] and the gap with [Jorge] Martin.

"I was pushing to the limit so I just watched the gap with Martin, +0.6, then I watched the tower and I saw 'L1'. So I did one lap and then I didn't remember that here in Barcelona the last lap is 'zero' not 'one'. And I closed the gas on the straight.

"So I'm very sorry for my team because I didn't have the speed of Fabio to win. But if I want to beat him in the championship I cannot do these mistakes. Today, I lost nine points, so I'm very sorry."

Espargaro also believes he could have maintained pace with Quartararo but had been too worried about concerns surrounding his tyre management.

"Yesterday between Michelin and my team, everybody put a lot of worry into my [mind] by saying that I use a lot of tyres, that I had to be gentle on the first laps and I was too gentle sincerely," Espargaro said.

"Because at the end of the race, when I overtook Martin, I had enough tyre to put 41.5s and go away.

"I think Fabio was not faster than me, but he was smarter, was able to push at the beginning, and then it's impossible to recover two, two-and-a-half seconds to Fabio.

"I think I could have gone with him at the beginning. But anyway, it's too late."

Francesco Bagnaia converted pole position at the Grand Prix of Spain for his first victory of 2022 ahead of MotoGP defending champion and season leader Fabio Quartararo.

After finishing the previous campaign with four wins in six races – his first victories in the top category – Bagnaia had endured a slow start this year, failing to even reach the podium prior to this weekend.

But a record lap in qualifying put the Ducati man on pole in Jerez, and he led from start to finish to kickstart his season.

Quartararo, starting in second, was Bagnaia's closest challenger, making a strong start and applying intense pressure for the first half of the race.

But Bagnaia was then able to open up a gap and enjoy a slightly more comfortable ride for his first win at this event, and fifth podium in his past seven entries across all categories.

Quartararo could at least be comforted by his now seven-point lead in the championship on a tough day for Alex Rins, who had been level at the summit but had to settle for 19th.

With Aleix Espargaro – now Quartararo's nearest challenger – completing the podium, the top three ended as they began, although the battle for third was a thriller.

Both Jack Miller and Marc Marquez, chasing his 100th MotoGP podium, got the jump on Espargaro early on, seemingly setting up a direct battle between the pair.

Marquez eventually got past Miller with five laps remaining following a stunning move at Turn 5, which he made stick despite the pace of the Ducati.

But that manoeuvre opened the door for Espargaro, running in fifth, to come back at them, and he profited when Marquez went wide at Turn 13 and required an incredible save to stay on his bike, catching himself with his left elbow.

Espargaro was able to build a bigger gap, although Marquez at least passed Miller again for fourth, delivering the drama that was missing at the front of the race.

Fabio Quartararo won a MotoGP race for the first time this season, sending him top of the championship after a routine victory in the Portuguese Grand Prix, with Johann Zarco in second and Aleix Espargaro third.

Quartararo won the last Portuguese Grand Prix in 2021, although failed to finish in the top 10 in his other two MotoGP appearances at the Algarve International Circuit (14th in 2020 Portuguese GP and did not finish at the 2021 Algarve GP).

However, despite winning last year's championship, the Frenchman's previous race win was at the British Grand Prix in August.

Quartararo eased past Joan Mir early in Sunday's race in Portimao, though, and never looked back as he cruised to the win, while all the drama happened behind him.

Previous championship leader Enea Bastianini crashed out on lap 10, appearing to clip the seam of the curb at turn eight before sliding off the track while in 10th place.

Mir was left fighting for second place and was eventually overtaken by a determined Zarco, but things were to get worse for the Spaniard as Jack Miller, while attempting to pass on the inside, slid his bike and took both of them out of the race at the start of lap 16.

Mir has now gone six races in a row without a podium, which was already his worst run in MotoGP since his first 20 races in the top category between 2019 and 2020.

It was a performance to remember from Alex Rins, though, as he took his Suzuki from 23rd all the way up to fourth, making up a remarkable 13 places on the opening lap alone.

Elsewhere, there was some good old-fashioned racing between the Marquez brothers near the end of the race, with Marc ultimately getting the better of Alex to take sixth place.

TOP 10

1. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha)
2. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +5.409
3. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) +6.068
4. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) +9.633
5. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM) +13.573
6. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +16.163
7. Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) +16.183
8. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo) +16.511
9. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda) +16.769
10. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia Racing) +18.063

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Riders

1. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) 69
2. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 69
3. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) 66
4. Enea Bastianini (Gresini) 61
5. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) 51

Teams

1. Suzuki Ecstar 115
2. Aprilia Racing 91
3. Monster Energy Yamaha 86
4. Red Bull KTM 81
5. Pramac Racing 79

Aleix Espargaro conceded he was fearful heading into the final session of Saturday's qualifying ahead of the Portuguese Grand Prix.

A crash-laden Q1 at Portimao saw Remy Gardner and Francesco Bagnaia, who has finished on the podium in his last two races at the Algarve International Circuit, crash, with the latter failing to set a time.

Johann Zarco produced a stunning lap to come out on top in Q2 to take pole and spare Ducati's blushes, finishing ahead of Joan Mir and Espargaro, who across four races this season has collected 50 points, more than in two of his previous five whole seasons with Aprilia (44 points in 2018 and 42 in 2020).

Reigning champion Fabio Quartararo – the winner at Portimao last year – also struggled in the wet, though the Yamaha driver overcame a tricky moment to clinch fifth on the grid, while Marc Marquez, chasing his 100th MotoGP podium this weekend, was left to rue a yellow flag, having initially set the fastest lap.

After negotiating the difficult conditions, a relieved Espargaro was thrilled with his efforts.

He said: "I hate to say it – I was scared! Today I was scared, the wet patches were very slippery.

"When you are sitting in the garage and see many crashes, and all the crashes have been huge. You have to be very focused but you cannot be.

"I tried to feel perfectly the whole track to see where I could push in the last five minutes. I am very happy, this is like a victory because I hate these conditions, so I'm super happy."

Having recorded a time of 1:42.003, Zarco, too, acknowledged the state of the track made assessing where and when to push hard difficult.

"Pretty, pretty happy. I did not expect it to be so good. It was so tricky," the Frenchman said.

"I was pretty happy to go straight through Q2. I couldn't analyse the Q1 well. The best strategy was to stay on track, do the full 15 minutes with the same tyre to get confidence with the track, it worked pretty well for me."

Mir, meanwhile, revelled in taking a place on the front row for just the second time in his MotoGP career.

"In normal conditions we always struggle to make one lap but in tough conditions we can give a little but more," the Suzuki Ecstar rider said.  

"My feeling is improving. We are following good steps, we are improving and it looks like when we make a good step [forward], we don't go back. So it's important. Let's see if we can go faster tomorrow, but it will be a hard race."

Enea Bastianini recorded his second victory of the 2022 MotoGP campaign, beating Alex Rins and Jack Miller to win the Grand Prix of the Americas in Houston, Texas.

The Italian became the first rider to rack up two victories this term after starting fifth on the grid, overtaking Miller with five laps to go in a fiercely competitive race.

The 24-year-old, who claimed his first MotoGP win in Qatar's curtain-raising race last month, made a strong start to fight his way into contention early on, entering second spot with nine laps to go.

Bastianini then passed Miller and pulled clear of the Australian, who dropped into third as Alex Rins clinched a second consecutive podium finish, keeping him second in the drivers' championship standings.

The Gresini rider ended the race 2.058 seconds ahead of his nearest rival, maintaining his lead at the top of the early-season riders' standings.

Elsewhere, Jorge Martin made a solid start from pole position, but suffered a poor end to the race in which he dropped to fourth with eight laps to go, and to eighth by the time he saw the chequered flag.

Marc Marquez suffered a horrendous start in Texas, dropping as low as 17th in the early stages, but recovered somewhat to finish sixth, while Joan Mir and Francesco Bagnaia rounded out the top five.

World champion Fabio Quartararo, meanwhile, finished in seventh as he struggles to match his terrific early-season form from 2021, and Aleix Espargaro could only manage a 13th-placed finish, one week after his sensational maiden victory in Argentina.

TOP 10

1. Enea Bastianini (Gresini)
2. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) +2.058
3. Jack Miller (Ducati) +2.312
4. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +3.975
5. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) +6.045
6. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +6.617
7. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) +6.760
8. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) +8.441
9. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +12.375
10. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) +12.642

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Riders

1. Enea Bastianini (Gresini) 61
2. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 56
3. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) 50
4. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar)) 46
5. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) 44

Teams

1. Suzuki Ecstar 102
2. Red Bull KTM 70
3. Aprilia 69
4. Gresini 61
5. Pramac Racing 59

Following his stunning pole position and race win double in Argentina this weekend, Aleix Espargaro believes this year's Aprilia is the "best bike" he has had in his career.

The Spaniard took Aprilia's first ever MotoGP era pole on Saturday at Termas, going five thousandths of a second within Marc Marquez's all-time lap record set in 2014.

He backed it up by winning on Sunday and fighting his way past Pramac Ducati's Jorge Martin, who took the lead after the first corner.

After claiming his first win in over 200 MotoGP races as well as the fastest lap at Termas, the 32-year-old was on cloud nine.

"I'm extremely happy because since Qatar I felt, even in the pre-season, I felt like I had the best bike I've ever had in my career," Espargaro said.

"Also, in Qatar I felt strong and we have step-by-step shown a lot of potential. Yesterday we proved we were the fastest, and also today in the race it was not lucky or a wet race and now we are leading."

Aleix Espargaro held off Jorge Martin in Argentina to land the first MotoGP win of his career – Aprilia's first race victory since the team's 2015 return.

The 32-year-old Espargaro had claimed Aprilia's first pole position with an impressive qualifying performance in Termas de Rio Hondo, and followed up to claim a long-awaited grand prix win in a thrilling race.

Espargaro landed the landmark victory on his 200th MotoGP start, and he had to be at his best to overcome compatriot Martin in an absorbing contest.

It was not plain sailing for Espargaro after his slow start allowed Martin to snatch an early advantage, which he maintained for 17 of 25 laps.

Martin, who crashed out of races in Qatar and Indonesia during his nightmare start to the season, lost the lead to Espargaro on the fifth turn of lap 18 but forced his way back to the front of the pack shortly thereafter.

Espargaro then passed Martin again at the same point of lap 21, holding on during a nervy ending to secure the triumph by 0.807 seconds.

Alex Rins finished third and Joan Mir recovered from an eighth-placed start to grab fourth place, meaning Spanish riders occupied each of the top four positions in Argentina.

Reigning MotoGP world champion Fabio Quartararo dropped as low as 13th during the early stages but recovered to finish comfortably inside the top 10.

Enea Bastianini, who stormed to a thrilling success in the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix last month, could only manage 10th, ceding first place in the riders' championship to Espargaro, who now leads the championship for the first time in his career, sitting seven points clear of Red Bull's Brad Binder.

TOP 10 

1. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia)
2. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) +0.807
3. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) +1.330
4. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +1.831
5. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) +5.840
6. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) +6.192
7. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) +6.540
8. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) +10.215
9. Marco Bezzecchi (Team VR46) +12.622
10. Enea Bastianini (Gresini) +12.987

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Riders
1. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) 45
2. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) 38
3. Enea Bastianini (Gresini) 36
4. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 36
5. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) 35

Teams
1. Suzuki Ecstar 69
2. Red Bull KTM 66
3. Aprilia 58
4. Monster Energy Yamaha 49
5. Pramac Racing 44

Aleix Espargaro wants to "keep making history" after claiming Aprilia's first MotoGP pole position in Argentina on Saturday.

Despite a stunning late lap for Jorge Martin in the Pramac Ducati to break the 1:38 mark at Termas, the Spanish veteran went even quicker to go five thousandths of a second from Marc Marquez's all-time lap record set in 2014.

The 32-year-old was not the only Aprilia who impressed, with Maverick Vinales claiming fifth spot in qualifying, his best since joining the team at Aragon in 2021.

Current MotoGP championship leader Enea Bastianini missed out on Q2 but will still start from 12th on the grid, with 11th-placed Jack Miller given a three-spot grid penalty for disturbing reigning world champion Fabio Quartararo's qualifying lap.

In claiming a maiden pole for Aprilia, though, Espargaro became the first-ever rider to claim three MotoGP pole positions with three different manufacturers.

"I'm happy and satisfied, but sincerely, for the rider it's nice to be fast on Saturday because the feeling you get on that lap is always special," Espargaro said afterwards.

"It's great to feel that adrenaline and speed, but what would really make me happy is if tomorrow I can achieve a good result and keep making history for Aprilia."

Since joining MotoGP in 2015, Aprilia's only other top three result also came via Espargaro, at Silverstone in 2021.

The older Espargaro sibling – Repsol Honda rider Pol qualified in fourth – could not hide his joy with that in mind, despite the race still to come on Sunday.

"This is just Saturday. More than for me, I'm happy for Aprilia. When you, for example, if Jorge [Martin] makes a pole position then they [Pramac] are normal in their garage because he gets pole positions every weekend.

"But for Aprilia when you do the first pole and arrive in the garage and see the face of everyone there, it's completely another story.

"Working six years on this project, and these small moments of joy and happiness is fantastic."

Provisional classification

1. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) 1:37.688
2. Jorge Martin (Pramac Ducati) +0.151s
3. Luca Marini (Mooney Ducati) +0.431
4. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda) +0.477
5. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) +0.508
6. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Yamaha) +0.593
7. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) +0.767
8. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +0.828
9. Johann Zarco (Pramac Ducati) +0.849
10. Takami Nakagami (LCR Honda) +0.888
11. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) +1.244
12. Enea Bastianini (Gresini Ducati) 1:38.566 (Q1)

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