Aleix Espargaró has stunned the MotoGP paddock by taking his new Gresini Racing Aprilia machine to an impressive top six finish first time out on the machine at the Qatar Grand Prix.
Running at a pace that he admitted afterwards that even he didn’t expect, he says that the ability of the bike to get the very best out of the softest option Michelin tyres gave them the edge he needed at the end of the race to finish within touching distance of the Repsol Hondas of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa.
“I am really very happy for myself and for Aprilia. This result comes after a lot of hard work over the winter. I did not hold anything back and, beginning with my physical fitness, I tackled this project with great motivation from the start. In the second half of the race, my RS-GP was spectacular. I had much more traction than my rivals and I was able to overtake easily. We knew that we could have an advantage in poor grip conditions.
“The bike looks after the tyres well and even if I was unable to be as incisive as the others in the early laps, my overall pace was very good. It was a pity about the starting position. Having to make up so many positions kept us from earning an even more surprising result, but it's all good. We got off on the right foot and now we want to continue.”
But despite the success of the race, boss Romano Albesiano says that it was important for other reasons too, giving the squad valuable knowledge to further improve the RS-GP machine.
“This was a brilliant race. We are happy. Analysing everything calmly, we must say that performance throughout the weekend was excellent. With the cancellation of the qualifiers, the warm up was the gauge for our potential. Aleix did not have the best start, but he did an extraordinary job maintaining that rhythm during the race. Obviously, we will not settle. Aleix is leading the charge for us all with a lot of enthusiasm and evidently the RS-GP works well in all areas, confirming that it is a very good bike in the race with the capacity to perform very consistently and with an excellent pace, especially in the second half of the race.
“We need to improve on the flying lap and we had things that we had wanted to test here in Q1, but the qualifiers being cancelled penalized us. If Aleix had started from farther forward, he could have really done something astonishing. But this evening we are celebrating. We are enthusiastic about this performance and it gives us confidence to grow.”
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