Aleix Espargaro’s impressive performances in winter testing might have surprised a few MotoGP observers, but one of them is not the Spaniard’s ex-Aspar team boss Gino Borsoi.
Espargaro has been the revelation of winter testing on the new Open class Forward Yamaha, having finished fourth fastest in the two big Sepang tests in Malaysia.
And during last weekend’s final test in Qatar, which was not attended by Repsol Honda, Movistar Yamaha or Ducati’s factory squad, he was fastest.
Espargaro has caught the eye on the new Forward Racing project, which is effectively a 2013-spec prototype YZR-M1 running more fuel, extra engines and softer tyres that is permitted in the new Open class.
The 24-year-old has been tipped to challenge for a podium on some tracks but his outstanding form has not come as a shock to Borsoi.
The Italian has helped nurture Espargaro on an Aprilia ART machine in 2012 and ’13 in the high-profile Aspar squad was desperate to keep him for this season.
Espargaro had to pay a £350,000 buyout clause to join Colin Edwards at Forward Yamaha and Borsoi told MCN: “I am not surprised because I knew his potential and we tried to keep him in our team because he is a really fast and young rider. We worked very well together and understood his mentality but also his bike now is a factory bike with 24 litres and a soft tyre. At the beginning of his career he was good but he was not ready because the team he was with never explained the system of working at this level. When he came to our team we explained our system and within six months the change was unbelievable. He is a good rider, he understands things very quickly, he just needs good people around him. He is fast, clever and aggressive."
Borsoi though admitted Espargaro’s prospects have been greatly enhanced by the performance of the Forward Racing machine.
The new Yamaha Open class bike has blown away its Honda RCV1000R counterpart and Borsoi added: “I think if Valentino and Jorge were able to use 24 litres and a soft tyre they would go more than 0.5s faster than now. The level of this bike is incredible compared to the Honda bike.”