While the front runners had a battle of their own, in the midfield it wasn’t straightforward in the 2018 MotoGP German Grand Prix as KTM’s Pol Espargaro came together with three of his rivals on the opening lap.
Going into Turn 3, Espargaro on the inside hit at the back of Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone and then crashed out in the gravel, collecting Iannone’s teammate Alex Rins in the process. The Pramac Racing Ducati’s Jack Miller was also involved in the melee.
Both Espargaro and Rins were out while Iannone and Miller fell to the back of the grid. The blame was straight on the KTM rider, who apologised Rins for his mistake but the stewards decided no action was warranted against him.
“It was a shame because this track is completely narrow and on the second corner I was on the outside,” started Espargaro. “I had some riders on the inside and then when you are going into the turn, all the riders they try to push riders outside a little bit more outside.
“That stage I realised I was super outside, I had not so much space to brake so much and I saw Iannone in the middle, he was locking in the inside so much and not carrying so much speed entering into the corner. I catch him from behind [then].
“Luckily he didn’t crash, but unluckily Rins with my bike and with my body, he crashed. I was so, so sorry for Alex. It was really unfortunate that it happened there on the first lap and we didn’t get to show what we had in the pocket today.
“From the first practice we were trying new things and new stuff and I was not focussed on the bike that we know until this morning. We had a very good rhythm and feeling and I was ready to do a good race.
“It was the worst moment of the season because I think we could have shown something very interesting here at Sachsenring.” He had topped the Sunday morning’s Warm-Up and his teammate Bradley Smith went on to finish 10th in the race.
Naturally, both the Suzuki riders were not happy. “I think Pol Espargaro should have thought a bit more,” said Iannone. “There isn’t space at that corner and he was completely on the kerb and he hit me on the back.”
Rins added: “I was on my line and it was very strange because when I changed direction on the entry of Turn 3, I found Pol on the inside. He touched Andrea and when he crashed, I went along with him.”
For Miller, who managed to avoid the fall but had to take the gravel road, said the crash was coming since the race start by the way Espargaro was riding. “He came in on the outside like an idiot already at Turn 1, trying to pass me, ran into me.
“Then [he] tried to pass the three [Rins and Iannone] of us round the outside into Turn 2. So, the crash was coming from a long way away,” said Miller. Both him and Iannone made good recovery to finish 12th and 14th respectively and score points.
It wasn’t a great day for Espargaro family though after Pol’s brother and Aprilia’s Alexis crashed in the Warm-Up which forced him to miss the race, as he continues to remain under observation in the hospital with a ‘bad thoracic trauma in the left rib area’.