Veteran American Colin Edwards heaped praise of new Forward Racing teammate Aleix Espargaro after the Spaniard’s brilliant start to the 2014 MotoGP testing campaign in Malaysia last week.
Making his debut on the new Open category FTR-Yamaha, Espargaro was the revelation of the Sepang test by finishing fourth quickest.
The ex-Aspar Aprilia rider was only beaten by Marc Marquez, Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, as he made an instant impression on the new FTR-Yamaha.
Espargaro’s bike is identical in specification to the Tech 3 Yamaha that Cal Crutchlow raced at the end of 2013. British-based FTR builds other components like the bodywork, fuel tank and seat unit.
The FTR Yamaha dazzled during its first serious test, with Espargaro taking advantage of the extra soft Bridgestone rear tyre and 24 litres of fuel to provide the first big shock of 2014.
His best time of 1.59.998 was less than 0.5s off the pace of reigning world champion Marquez and only 0.132s behind factory Yamaha rider Lorenzo.
On the same package, Texan Edwards was down in 14th and 1.7s behind and he told MCN he was seriously impressed with Espargaro’s form.
The double World Superbike champion said: “He is riding awesome and I'm totally happy for the team. They have put in a lot of work to get us all to where we are now. So it is a celebration for everybody. I can see how fast the bike can go, so I have to get comfortable with it. It was an awesome test to see what we have."
Asked whether Espargaro had been underrated in the past, Edwards added: "I've always thought highly of him but maybe he has a little bit. But he is good. He’s 24 and that's a good age to be fast."