That was an unfortunate one, let's say – there's another word I could use, but let's go with that – because I felt really good from the get-go here at COTA. I honestly felt the victory was on offer today because of the way the KTM holds the rear tyre, and after five laps I was starting to gain time back on the boys up front (Ducati's Pecco Bagnaia and Honda's Alex Rins) and I felt that off the slow corners, I was managing the rear tyre a bit better. Rins was starting to spin a bit more than I was in acceleration, so I really felt we were a good shout today … but we're all going to say that when we're laying in the gravel trap after seven laps, aren't we?
I made an awesome start from 10th, got down the inside into Turn 1 and then got (Ducati's Luca) Marini before the back straight, so I did a lot of my best work early on by being third after the first lap. I realised pretty quickly that I was able to push Pecco and Alex, and it felt pretty comfortable. I got settled into the race and swapped the (engine) map … and then she let go on me and that was all she wrote.
We had a really competitive package today, so I'm sorry for the team for letting them down. They've done a fantastic job all weekend again, and the improvement from last year is huge. To be there fighting with both Pecco and Alex for the first bit of the race was awesome. I really felt like we were in with a shout today.
Six crashes across the weekend isn't anything to be happy about, and it's been a tricky one because the crashes have been so strange, there's nothing I could do about them when they came. You try to stick your elbow in like you do with every other sort of track and you can kind of save it, but here … you can put your elbow in as much as you like, but you're not bringing it back. Once it goes, it goes. Pecco's crash later on and a lot of the other crashes were the same thing. It's a slippery and unforgiving track, and you had to ride with that little bit of margin because once you lose speed, there's no way of grabbing back the grip when you have a moment. It looked like Rins was able to do that better than any of us throughout the weekend.
I always love coming back here to COTA, it's definitely one of the Grand Prixs that I look forward to most on the calendar. Probably one of my favourites, to be honest. The track is just so different to everywhere else that we race, which is nice. We've managed to improve the braking performance of the KTM in Portimao and Argentina, so that had me optimistic for here because that's one of the key factors you need in places like corner one and then the corner before the back straight. The bike's changing directions well, it gives me really good feedback through the handlebars, and COTA gives you a good old workout there.
Sunday was a shame, and Saturday wasn't exactly ideal either – three crashes in the morning practice, two of them in two laps – so to get at least one point in the sprint race was something. The sprint race was a bit calmer than the first two but here, it's such a physical track that you have to manage yourself a little bit so that probably explains it. It felt like I was getting stronger as the sprint race went on, but I needed more than 10 laps – it went better in the last three laps. I did my second-best lap on the last lap, but I couldn’t really use the front tyre like I wanted because the temperature was too high being in the group, and with it being so hot here on Saturday.
One point from here isn't what we all wanted, no question about that, but we'll draw on the positives from the weekend and try to learn from the negatives, and go towards Jerez with a clear mind.
I'm looking forward to getting to Jerez, it's always good to go back to a place where you've won before. It's another new track for me with the KTM, but it'll be good to be back to some semi-normal conditions. I just can't wait to get back on this thing because I'm really enjoying riding it, and enjoying the group of guys and working with them to make things better.