Aleix Espargaro has declared that Aprilia are “ready to fight” for top results throughout the 2022 MotoGP season after challenging for a rostrum in the Qatar Grand Prix.
Aprilia started its first season going it alone – the Gresini squad having run its race operations since it returned to the premier class in 2015 before splitting with the Italian brand at the conclusion of last term – in strong fashion as Espargaro came home fourth, less than a second from the podium and only 2.2 seconds adrift of race winner Enea Bastianini.
The Noale-based marque opted for a strategy of evolution rather than revolution with the RS-GP it first introduced for the 2020 campaign, bringing chassis as well as minor engine refinements.
Espargaro says he is “satisfied” with his run in the Qatar GP, though admitted that “it’s never great to finish fourth and that close to the podium”, the Spaniard reckoning that having to battle past the likes of Suzuki’s Joan Mir and Honda’s Marc Marquez meant it was impossible to challenge for a third career rostrum finish.
“I’m happy with the first race, it’s always important to finish, achieve points and see how the bike reacts after 22 laps, so overall I’m satisfied,” explained Espargaro.
“It’s never great to finish fourth and that close to the podium but it is what it is, I lost a lot of time trying to overtake Joan (Mir) and Marc (Marquez) and I think this is why (podium wasn’t possible) because I think that I was quite strong during the race and managed to put a lot of laps in the high 1:54s but it was not enough to catch them in the end.
“Overall it’s good though because we have improved the bike and I have improved my overall level, so we are ready to fight and this year will be very fun.
“I was trying my best (to catch Pol Espargaro) but at Turn 4 I made a small mistake, I was already on the limit and I was doing all I could to arrive close to him because at Turn 15 I was stronger than the Honda’s but unfortunately the mistake meant I couldn’t.”