Aleix Espargaro is hoping he can rid Aprilia of its development concessions by scoring a rostrum this weekend at Jerez, admitting he has “never liked” the scheme.
The Spaniard scored his second podium finish of the season at Portimao last weekend, his third place at the Algarve International Circuit bolstering the maiden win he secured in Argentina earlier this month.
Aprilia’s recent upturn in form has come largely as a result of enjoying a greater amount of development freedom as a result of the concessions system, put in place to help struggling manufacturers catch up to the front runners by allowing them to use its race riders during private testing sessions as well as unlimited engine development through the year amongst other benefits.
Six podium points are needed for a marque to lose its concessions, with Aprilia now on five following its Argentina success – worth three points – as well as its two third places at Silverstone last year and Portimao which are worth one point apiece.
Espargaro says he is keen for Aprilia to lose its concessions in order to show that it can now fight with its fellow manufacturers on an equal footing, adding that he believes every organisation should have to “fight with the same weapons.”
“Honestly I’ve never liked the concessions, I think we have to fight with the same weapons as the rest,” said Espargaro.
“I’m not stupid and I know the concessions help us for sure, but now we are fighting with the big boys and we’ve shown our bike is competitive and hopefully we can lose them in Jerez.
“If you told me I’d be top three in the championship before Christmas I’d have been really nervous about how to deal with the situation, but I’m actually really relaxed and you cannot imagine how much I’m enjoying this moment.
“To ride at this level is unbelievable and very difficult, I’ve never had this but I’m very happy and life is good so I’ll just try to keep my feet on the ground and hopefully we can continue like this.”
Espargaro conceded he was unable to seriously challenge Portuguese Grand Prix runner-up Johann Zarco in the closing laps as a result of a degrading rear tyre, something he feels was a result of having to fight harder to recover lost ground due to a clutch issue that saw him receive a slower start than anticipated.
“I’m satisfied, but we have to improve the clutch because we are having a lot of troubles with it, and we need to fix this because the start of the race is very important,” continued the one-time premier class race victor.
“However once I overtook Alex Marquez and (Miguel) Oliveira which was not easy and I had free track I had good pace, I could catch the guys in front of me and I was ready to attack them because I felt a lot stronger.
“It was a shame the mistake of Jack (Miller) but this is racing and the podium is good for me, I tried to attack Johann (Zarco) but I had no traction because my rear tyre was finished, but overall I’m happy.”