Aleix blesses the new Aprilia: “Motorbike 23 is a little better than 22”

Aleix Espargaró and Aprilia were some of the great cheerleaders last season and neither the rider nor the Italian factory want that to be a nice anecdote over time. Now they face 2023 with the desire to establish themselves among the best in MotoGP and in the Sepang test they have shown that this can be the case. Added to his teammate Maverick Viñales’ good third place was an interesting sixth place for Aleix and, what is better, the feeling that this year’s bike is even better than last season’s.

“It took me a bit to get the hang of it, but on the first day we only did 48 laps because there weren’t many front tires and we were a little psychotic about not being able to work well. Then yesterday she rained. We arrived today at 12 noon, the last day, with a wet track, having rolled very little, and I was a bit unsure. But as soon as I was able to get out on the track I felt good, every start, every lap I do, I go faster, and the 23rd bike is a little better than the 22nd. So I’m satisfied. It’s only the first test, but good”, has started an Aleix who is seen again with ambition.

His desire is noticeable in the way he has to squeeze the house of Noale. When the man from Granollers is asked to what extent they depend on the new engine specification, he says: “If we want to win, a lot. I have the feeling that the bike is not bad, that perhaps after Ducati we can be there, but if you want to not only have a solid championship by scoring points but also go on the attack and try to win races, we are missing a point. We have to be able to stop the bike better, which I still have a long way to go compared to Ducati, and above all we lack some torque below and I hope that the new racing engine gives something more”.

His general assessment of this three-day test is as follows: “I think the tests are a bit… and even we, the drivers themselves, because of the anxiety we have, but these classifications are a bit misleading. You can prepare the last corner very well and go straight in 1 and do a speed of the host. You have to analyze everything well, see all the batches, just one screen is not worth it. ANDIt’s true that the new Aprilia is better, the new engine has a bit more revs and the bike runs more, but I have the feeling that, especially on the lower parts, we lack a bit of torque and there are many circuits where you don’t have a kilometer straight like in Malaysia, the new bike has a little less downforce and you gain a little speed for free that is not because of the engine. I think we are missing a bit.”

What Aleix and his technical team can’t quite find an explanation for is the downturn they suffered on this same track last year, when the February test had gone well for them: “Yesterday, at the meeting, I asked the team again what they thought of that situation. I can not understand it… Last year in the Maverick test and I led, we were the fastest by far, maybe faster than this year. Today we are very fast again and in the Grand Prix neither of us could finish in the top ten. It’s a little hard to understand, and I still don’t get it. And today, in fact, I had doubts when I got to this test to see if it was the continuity of November or last February. And it’s been February. In other words, what happened at the end of the year continues to generate many doubts in me.” What he said then is that he believed they had suffocated at the end of the year… He remembers it: “Yes, I can have the feeling you want, but I would like to have a scientific, technical answer. I, obviously, have my thoughts about what happened, but when two riders have gone this fast both Februarys, with two bikes that are almost the same, and at the end of the year we went as slow as we went, that in the race I was 14, 15, Maverick too, with a fastest lap of 2’00.7… I’m doing a 2’00.7 now coming out of the pits. I would like to know what happened there.”

And as for the change of mentality with which he faces a season in which he already has him from the start, Aleix assumes his responsibility: “I always said it last year when they asked me about the title. He said: everything we do will go well, what we are doing is historic. Now it’s not all worth it. Now Aprilia has invested a lot, we have a satellite team with two very strong riders, Maverick and I are two very strong riders, and after having fought for the title last year until the last races means that this year we are forced to fight for all 4 or top 5 in the world. To say that we are obliged to fight for the title is absurd, we still do not have the level or the structure that Ducati has, but it is our obligation to be in front from the start. And I feel capable of doing it.”

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