MotoGP news: History suggests Espargaro faces tough task dethroning Quartararo

Espargaro already relying on his rival picking up DNFs in the second half of the season to maintain his Wold Championship title interest.

Declaring that the "problem is not the points", Aleix Espargaro is minimising the task that faces him overhauling his 34-point deficit to Fabio Quartararo in this year's MotoGP World Championship.

After all, a 30-plus deficit has only twice been overturned since MotoGP changed to the current sliding scale of 25, 20, 15, 13, 11, 10 and downwards, and it has never been done in the second half of a season.

Jorge Lorenzo came the closest in 2015 when he clawed back 23 points against Valentino Rossi, then beat him by five.

From 23 down to five ahead for Lorenzo

Ten races into this year's 20-race MotoGP season and Quartararo is sitting pretty after his recent run of three podium finishes, two of which - Catalunya and Germany - were race wins.

Scoring 75 points in the last three races, he has bounded from a four-point lead over Espargaro to a 34-point advantage.

That, says history, means he's assured of the MotoGP World Championship title as the biggest deficit overturned since 1993 was Lorenzo on Rossi in 2015.

Lorenzo was left trailing his Italian team-mate by 23 points after the San Marino MotoGP, the Spaniard retiring due to a crash while Rossi finished P5.

With five races remaining the bookies had Rossi as their favourite only for Lorenzo to slowly but surely claw his way back, the rider beating his Yamaha team-mate in four of the last five races.

That fifth race, the season-ending Valencia MotoGP, was mired in controversy as Rossi was penalised with a back-of-the-grid start after the stewards deemed him to be responsible for his clash with Marc Marquez at the previous round in Malaysia.

Rossi could only recover as high as P4 with Lorenzo winning the race and taking the world title by five points.

It was the biggest points-swing in the second half of a season under today's system, although twice 30-plus has been overhauled but with the rider starting to do so early in the championship.

30-plus magic from Marquez and Mir

Marc Marquez overhauled a 33-gap to Maverick Vinales in 2017, the Honda rider well off the pace after round seven at Catalunya.

Winning just one of the opening seven races, 2017 was not shaping up to be Marquez' season as the Repsol man sought to retain the World title.

But with Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso putting his Desmosedici GP17 into the mix, Vinales stopped winning and Marquez began to eek into the Yamaha rider's advantage, helped by a DNF for the latter in the Netherlands.

Five wins in the ten races after Vinales' DNF saw Marquez overhaul the deficit, pull ahead of mid-season leader Dovizioso, and win the title with a 37-point margin.

Joan Mir also managed to turn around a 30-plus point deficit in 2020, the Suzuki rider having scored just 11 points to Quartararo's 59 after the Czech Republic.

But that was round three in a Covid-hit season, a very different feel to this year's championship.

One DNF could change the storyline

Despite what history says, Espargaro believes he can overhaul the 34-point gap - he just needs a DNF or two in his favour.

"For me, the problem is not the points," said the Aprilia rider. "It's just 30 points, not so much - if he crashes in Assen and I win or finish second, it would be 10 points."

With 25 points for a win he's right, one DNF for the Yamaha rider and the 32-year-old is back in the game. Of course one DNF for him and he's out of it.

Retirements, though, have not been a part of either riders' season with Espargaro crashing six times, but never in a race, and Quartararo with two on the board, again neither coming in a race.

In fact neither rider has even finished outside the points with Espargaro's lowest result a P11 and Quartararo a P9.

But crossing the line no lower than P4 in the last six races, Quartararo believes his early season missteps are behind him.

"In the beginning of the year, I was not really on it, because in Qatar and Argentina especially, I would say I was complaining too much and in my head there was always the fact that the top speed is much slower than the others.

"But in Austin, I decided to really stop with this mentality because I will have the same bike all year, and just do the best with what you have.

"It's basically really similar to last year, and we could achieve really great races, and I think the step I did mentally in Austin brings me not more motivated, but more focused."

Espargaro highlights his one pitfall

Aleix Espargaro Assen

Being more focused has paid off for the 23-year-old who has beaten his title rival in six of the last seven races starting in America.

And therein lies Espargaro's biggest problem in turning over his deficit: "The problem is that he is always faster than me on Sunday."

He also has not been helped by his own mistakes as at one race where Espargaro did have the better Sunday speed, Catalunya, he fluffed it as he celebrated what he thought was the win one lap early.

By the time he realised the race was still on, he was down in fifth place.

It was a mistake that instead of reducing his gap by five points, extended it by 14.

What he uttered that Sunday may yet be the words he repeats come the end of this championship. "I'm sorry."

READ MORE: MotoGP news: Aleix Espargaro describes German GP as 'impossible' after front tyre issues

Latest news