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“He has no brains!” - MotoGP rider Espargaro slams Sofuoglu over Oncu defence

Aprilia MotoGP Aleix Espargaro skewers Kenan Sofuoglu's insistence that he encourages aggressive racing after protege Deniz Oncu received Moto3 race ban

Aleix Espargaro, Kenan Sofuoglu


Aprilia MotoGP rider Aleix Espargaro has taken aim at Kenan Sofuoglu for his comments regarding on-track rider conduct in the wake of his protege Deniz Oncu receiving a two-event ban for triggering a terrifying accident during the Moto3 race at COTA.

Oncu was roundly criticised across the MotoGP paddock after swerving on the straight led to his rear wheel making contact with the front of Jeremy Alcoba’s bike, sending the Frenchman down. The stricken bike was then struck hard by the close-following Andre Migno, who caught significant air before coming down, while championship leader Pedro Acosta also suffered a fast fall.

Though all three riders escaped major injury - with each taking the restart following a red flag period - Oncu drew the ire of many high-profile names, with Enea Bastianini calling for him to be excluded for the remainder of the season.

The FIM duly reacted by banning him from two of the final three grands prix, a ruling that angered Oncu’s manager, five-time WorldSSP Champion Kenan Sofuoglu, who emphasised that he mentors aggressive racing, which he believes is both required and endemic in Moto3 in order to succeed.

Though Sofuoglu maintains he encourages aggression without lurching into danger, his comments have certainly raised eyebrows, particularly as the Moto3 incident came a week after Dean Berta Vinales’ death in a WorldSSP 300 turned a harsh spotlight on series’ where riding standards among developing youngsters has been called into question.

Espargaro was one such rider to take exception to Sofuoglu’s words, taking to Twitter to say: “Fortunately this person is far from the MotoGP paddock!”

Asked for further comment by GPOne, Espargaro elaborated that while he sympathises with Oncu for needing to be made an example of, he otherwise regarded Sofuoglu as having ‘no brains’.

“I am absolutely convinced without a shadow of a doubt that Oncu did not do it on purpose, but he is a young rider and consequently needs to learn. Dorna did the right thing to penalise him to teach him a lesson. Too bad his manager has no brains and therefore did the opposite”

Sofuoglu - who also mentors Deniz’ brother, WorldSSP racer Can Oncu, plus WorldSBK title contender Toprak Razgatlioglu and his WorldSSP 300 race winning cousin Bahattin Sofuoglu - did compete in the GP paddock, completing a season in Moto2, peaking with a single podium at Assen.

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