Sport can be brutal, unforgiving and heartbreaking all at the same time as MotoGP rider Aleix Espargaro found out first hand.
Spanish MotoGP star Aleix Espargaro has made a horror blunder to finish fifth hin his home Catalonia Grand Prix after he started celebrating a lap before the end of the race.
Espargaro was likely headed for a second-place finish behind Fabio Quartararo, who extended his season lead.
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But the race couldn’t have gone much worse for Espargaro, who started on pole but was overtaken by Quartararo on the first corner.
Then with one lap remaining, Espargaro inexplicably slowed down, pumping his fist as if he had finished the race.
Other riders overtook him and he did realise his mistake until he dropped to fifth.
The commentators were stunned, believing Espargaro was retiring from the race with a lap to go before they realised the blunder.
“Does he think the race is finished? I think he thinks it’s over?” the commentators said. “Oh my goodness, what a howler by Aleix Espargaro.
“We thought there was a mechanical issue, he though the race was over.
“In an incredible miscalculation, Alexis Espargaro thought his home Grand Prix was over. He thought he’d taken second place.
“That’s one of the most incredible blunders I’ve ever seen.”
After the race, the cameras showed Espargaró in tears after blowing a near certain podium because of his mistake.
“The only thing I can say is ‘sorry’ to my team,” Espargaro said. “It is an inadmissable error at this level of competition.
“It is totally my fault. I completely forgot that here the last lap is listed as zero not one hence I took my foot off the gas in the finishing straight.
“I’m very sorry for my team. Because I know I don’t have the speed of Fabio to win [today], 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.”
Social media could not help but feel bad for the remorseful star.
It was a dramatic race following a terrifying crash on the first lap when Takaaki Nakagami’s head struck the wheel of Francesco Bagnaia, while Alex Rins was also taken out in the carnage.
Bagnaia slammed Nakagami after the race and said other riders were scared to race against him.
“We are professional riders, and we have a lot of fears when Taka is riding,” he told the host broadcast.
“(These) mistakes cannot happen. You can’t overtake 12 riders in one braking (zone) – it was really irresponsible.
“If I wasn’t there … he was going into the gravel and his race would be finished.”