MotoGP

Aprilia’s 2022 MotoGP title challenge is “real” – Espargaro

The veteran Spaniard is now just seven points adrift of Fabio Quartararo in second in the standings after claiming third in last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix after getting the better of Jack Miller and Marc Marquez late in the race.

It marked the first back-to-back podium of his MotoGP career after his third in Portugal, and follows on from his historic Argentina win.

Espargaro admits he is “missing” something on the Aprilia to match Quartararo, but believes Aprilia is firmly in the championship hunt at this stage.

“I will not wake up till Valencia,” he replied when asked if he was living a dream.

“I started dreaming in Qatar, and I will try to keep my feet on the ground. But it’s real, it’s real.

“We are doing a great job. We have to know that for the moment the feeling that I have, with Fabio we don’t really have his speed.

“We are missing something – not so much, because today I think if I was not stuck behind Jack [Miller] and Marc [Marquez] I would have been very close to them [Quartararo and Francesco Bagnaia].

“I missed something, so the key this year will be the consistency, making no mistakes, being there.

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing

Photo by: Dorna

“We did almost 33% of the championship and we are just seven points behind him.”

Espargaro’s Jerez podium means Aprilia has lost its results-based concessions it has run with since it returned to MotoGP in 2015.

This means Aprilia can no longer test in-season with its race riders and will have its engine allocation reduced from nine to seven from 2023, and will be unable to freely develop engines and aerodynamics next season.

While Espargaro says this will make life “stressful” for Aprilia’s engineers, he believes losing the concessions – something he has never liked anyway – is “fair” given the performance of the RS-GP now.

“I think that if we are in race six and we are seven points from the leader, the bike is working well,” Espargaro added.

“It’s fair to lose the concessions. It’s fair to fight with them with the same weapons.

“I believe a lot with Aprilia engineers and I know in Noale they will be a little bit more stressed.

“But I don’t think it will change a lot. My life will be easier, I had a test after Le Mans in Mugello. I will have more time to go home, I will have more time to cycle.

“I’m not really stressed. The most difficult thing was to reach the level we reached. The engine will have to last a little bit more, but I think they will do it.”

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