The veteran Spaniard currently sits third in the championship and just three points from joint leaders Fabio Quartararo and Alex Rins, after claiming his second podium of the campaign in third in last weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix.
Espargaro stormed to his first grand prix victory and Aprilia’s first in the modern MotoGP era in Argentina, and has been quick throughout the 2022 campaign on the vastly improved RS-GP.
Now an early title contender, Espargaro admits he didn’t expect this level of performance from himself or the Aprilia coming into 2022.
“No, not at all,” he said when asked if he expected to be a title contender.
“We are in the fight for this championship after race five, that’s for sure. We’re just three points from last year’s champion Fabio.
“I expected to have a high level this year, but maybe not that much.
“I think I’m riding in a good level, but I think also rode in a good level last year.
“But you need to have a competitive bike, and this year Aprilia brought a competitive bike and it suits my riding style.
“I proved that I’m strong with this bike this year. Sincerely, there’s no pressure.
“I’m not thinking about the championship, I’m super relaxed, enjoying a lot this moment. It took a long time to get to this point in my career.”
Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
Espargaro’s third in Portugal is his third podium on the Aprilia, following a third at Silverstone in 2021 and his Argentina victory.
That mean’s Aprilia is just one podium away from losing the results-based concessions it has run under throughout its return to MotoGP, which has offered it more engines for a season and unrestricted testing compared to non-concession manufacturers.
Aprilia has already been working in 2022 as if it will lose concessions next year, by using one less engine in its allocation of nine.
Having greatly benefitted from concessions, Espargaro says he never actually liked the system and is not stressed at the prospect of losing them for 2023.
“Maybe some engineers at Noale are a little bit more worried than me, but I don’t like this [the concessions],” he added.
“I’m not stupid, I know these concessions help us.
“But I don’t like them at all, and I think I proved that I’m riding in a very good level and the Aprilia RS-GP is in a good level.
“If not, it’s impossible to do results. So, from now on I think we have a good base and I hope that already in Jerez we will lose the concessions.”