BARCELONA, Spain (AP)Spanish MotoGP rider Aleix Espargaro missed out on a podium finish at the Catalonia Grand Prix won by Fabio Quartararo after thinking the race was over a lap before it ended.
Espargaro was in second place Sunday when he crossed the line on the second-to-last lap, then lifted off the throttle and started to wave to fans at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit. He realized his mistake a few turns later and immediately went back to racing, finishing in fifth place.
”It’s an unacceptable mistake in MotoGP,” Espargaro said. ”I looked at the sign and forgot that here it should say L0 (for Lap 0) instead of L1 (for Lap 1) at the end. It was completely my fault.”
The 32-year-old Espargaro stopped after crossing the line on the last lap and looked desolate. He stayed on his bike for a while, with his head down and his hands on his helmet.
He went straight into the back of his team’s garage and appeared to be crying as crew members and relatives tried to console him.
Jorge Martin took second place and Johann Zarco was third to complete the podium.
Espargaro is second in the championship standings. He saw the gap to leader Quartararo increase from eight points to 22 points after his mistake on Sunday.
”I can’t make these mistakes if I want to win the championship,” Espargaro said. ”I need to apologize to my team. It was unacceptable.”
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