Aleix Espargaró finished tenth in the Portimao test, 0.601 behind the head, which was occupied by Francesco Bagnaia with a track record included. The Aprilia rider’s right forearm is very sore due to a possible compartment syndrome that looks like he will have to undergo surgery for the third time. He seems happy with his and his factory’s work in preseason and, knowing that they will have more pressure in 2023 than they did in 2022, he is ambitious.
-How have the discomforts in the arm been?
I don’t have strength in my arm. Yesterday I had to stop, because I couldn’t do more than two laps. Today I was able to do a few laps, but I don’t have any strength. It’s like my wrist is asleep. I don’t have feeling in my fingers and it’s kind of weird because my arm doesn’t swell up like compartment syndrome either. I have had an ultrasound here at the Mobile Clinic, and it seems that I have a fibrosis that is tightening my muscle a lot, so tomorrow I will have more tests at the Dexeus Clinic.
-Would that mean going through the operating room?
-They have to do more tests, but I spoke a little with doctors Charte and Mir, and it seems that if there is a fibrosis, it would be necessary to open and clean. Tomorrow at eight in the morning I will do more tests so that they are sure of what to do, and to see what we can improve for the first GP, because now I am not capable of doing three or four laps in a row.
-Did the preseason end more or less where expected?
Yes, I am more or less where I thought. We are not with the best Ducati, but we are not very far. And with respect to the others, we are competitive in general terms. But you always have to be aware that tests are tests. There are always people who keep things to themselves and there are also test world champions every year, so you have to be cautious and analyze everything carefully. And, when the World Cup starts, going for the points on Saturday afternoons and Sundays, which in the end is what counts, more than anything else.
-Beyond the “deceptions” of the tests, is there any firm conclusion?
-In Malaysia I was very fast on the soft tyre, but even though I was very close in qualifying, we didn’t have the pace of the Ducati by far. On the other hand, here, after one lap, I have not been brilliant, but I think that we are very similar to the best in terms of pace and that is important. I don’t know, until the races start… We have seen many times very high paces and then drivers who have not managed to materialize it in the race. I think that in the race we will be in a position to be with the best.
-Despite the result, you have lapped below the circuit record…
-The demand is maximum. We’re not bad, I’m below the track record and relatively close to first, but you always want more. I would like to fight for pole position two Saturdays from now in Portimao and we still have a bit to go, but I’m not physically brilliant either. The bike is fine, but I’m not fine. I don’t have the strength in my arm to brake hard, so I hope I can improve.