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MotoGP Argentina: Espargaro’s dreams come true - ‘Three years ago I was done’

Aleix Espargaro’s dream came true on Sunday as the Aprilia rider claimed his and the Noale factory’s debut MotoGP win.

A six year project came to fruition in some style as Espargaro claimed the victory, and took charge in the rider’s standings, from pole position on his 200th premier class start at the Argentina GP.

“I’m extremely happy,” Espargaro beamed from Parc Fermé. “I’m very, very happy about this week in Argentina. Overall in Qatar and Indonesia I also felt very strong. I felt competitive.


“Even in the preseason I felt that I had the best machine I ever had in my career.

“Obviously in the preseason it’s very difficult to judge if this bike will allow you to fight for a top ten, top five or to win but I’ve been very close to the fastest guys in every preseason test. Also in Qatar I felt strong, so step by step we show our potential. I think we did a solid weekend. Today hasn’t been a wet race or a lucky race or whatever. I think yesterday we proved that we were the fastest on the qualifying and also today in the race and we are leading [the championship], so this is like a dream. I’m extremely happy because I feel that this championship is one of the most difficult championships ever, because the level of my mates is huge. The level of every factory is very, very high.

“Sincerely, the race was not easy. I expect a little bit easier because this morning I was very strong, but I didn’t find the grip during the race, was very hot. After Moto2 the bike was very, very slippery but I think that I did a smart race and finally after this long period with Aprilia finally we achieved the victory, we are leading. This is like a dream. Feet on the ground but I think we truly deserve this. I’m 32 but finally I arrive and I think I deserve this.

“Six years ago when I finished with Suzuki and I signed for Aprilia nobody want to go there. Nobody believed in that project. So step by step what they achieved, working very hard, is unbelievable. Their bike is leading the championship after pole position and winning a race, so not just for me, but for everybody in Noale, for everybody from Aprilia. I’m very, very, very happy.

“Now we going to America, a very difficult circuit for us but with a lot of positive energy and just trying to keep the momentum.”

While the starts aligned at Termas de Rio Hondo, it had been quite the journey for the 32-year-old from Granollers. His previous five seasons at Aprilia have proved arduous and without a single victory across his 20-year world championship career, critics were plentiful. Espargaro openly admits he almost called it a day in 2019 but the support of his family, and changes at Aprilia brought fresh energy and the needed breakthrough for the RS-GP project.

“Three years ago I had no energy. The tank was completely empty. I talked to my wife and I say Laura ‘I can’t continue, I’m not enjoying. I’m still young. Let’s try to do another thing’ and she helped me a lot. A lot, a lot and also with the arrival of Massimo Rivola everything start to change. So I still believed in the project and finally I think that we deserve this because we work very, very hard. To win a race and lead a championship, it doesn’t matter the bike u have, is always fantastic, but if you do with Aprilia is even better.

“I remember perfectly when I was in Suzuki with Maverick [Viñales] and then I finished there, because I was not competitive enough and Aprilia I called me. I was obviously not on the top of the list of fast riders at all, but nobody was going there. The fast riders didn’t want to go there. Nobody believed in the project. So from the first day I said, I will try to make this bike shine, I will try to put the bike on top.
“I never expect that it took me so long!

“But finally, we are achieving. Even three years ago we tried to convince some young riders to come who are now in Moto2 and they say ‘We prefer to wait for another bike’ so this makes me more hungry, give me extra motivation because I say ‘Okay. You will remember this day as not a good day in your life when you say no to Aprilia’ and now I’m happy. Yesterday I was very happy because Sam Lowes, Scott Redding, Iannone, all of the riders who I raced with, text me and they were very, very happy for me, for Aprilia, because they know how hard it has been. They know how far the bike was in the past and the level that we are showing now I think is good. Still a lot of job to do, but I think now the people, especially the young riders in Moto2 and Moto3, start to see the project of Aprilia more serious, like an option for the future. I think this is also great for the sport, for the championship because now there is a lot of strong manufacturers. You can almost win with every bike. This year KTM wins. Ducati wins. Aprilia wins. Honda is very strong, also Suzuki is strong with this pair of guys and all bikes, with Yamaha won last year, is unbelievable the level of the category and that’s fantastic.

“I’m a very passionate guy. So when I arrived home, for me, after the difficult weekend, which was almost every weekend in the last five years in Aprilia! It was very difficult for me to be happy and my wife support me a lot and I think the arrival of the kids give me like a boost of positive energy. I’m very, very happy to achieve this victory for them. Because it’s also very hard for me to leave them at home. It’s one of the worst things in my life, in my job, is to be far from them. So the first thing that I did when I crossed the chequered flag was thinking my wife and my kids. Max before the race said to me, ‘In Qatar you said that you’re gonna give me a trophy and you did not’. Because before the race, I said, ‘Max, I’m strong. I think I can give you a trophy after this race’ and he was angry. So I say ‘Now I give you even a special one’. So yeah, I’m very happy. Still one week to come back home and hug them but hopefully I can bring two trophies, so focused to America now!”


While the Andorran resident enjoyed a clean swap across the shortened Argentina schedule, topping both free practice sessions, qualifying and Sunday’s extended morning warm up with superior pace. The race didn’t come quite as easily as the paddock expected.

“It was not easy,” Espargaro admitted. “Was very difficult, sincerely, the Aprilia and the bumps are not very friendly. I struggle quite a lot during the weekend, also to use the rear height device was very, very difficult with these bumps. But the most difficult thing today I think, I don’t know if for the track temperature or for the Moto2 race, but to deal with these low track grip was very, very difficult for everybody I think.

“From the beginning of the race I never felt like in the practices, and I know that Jorge [Martin, who lined up in second for the Pramac rider’s third front row start of the season and led all but the last five laps of the 25-lap battle] is a killer. I know that on Sunday he don’t need to have the pace during the weekend, super huge pace. When the light goes out, he’s a killer and it was not easy for me to follow him actually. I make a couple of mistakes then I recover, I play a lot with electronics, with the engine brake and with the TC trying to save the maximum tyre possible for the last four laps. But sincerely he was brave because he carry all the more difficult part of the race, leading and showing to everybody the pace because the track today was very difficult.

“I think that during my career I always try to respect my opponents, trying to overtake clean and even more with a friend so we show today that you can pass yourself couple of times no problem. You don’t need to touch each other. But even if he touched me a little bit, as he did for example in last race, this is racing.


“It was not easy because from this morning everybody was saying I have a lot of pace, you will win easy,” he commented on the pressure of the day. “I say ‘Yes. I will win very easy’. Racing is racing. I knew some riders had a lot of pace and I knew also that Jorge starting from second, he’s a killer and I knew it was very difficult with him 100 per cent. I tried to enjoy the moment of being the first one in the grid after my pole position and I said to myself, ‘If you were able to enjoy riding the bike finishing in 12th, 14th, 10th place, why you have to be nervous? You are very strong. Go there and have fun and if you finish second, third is going to be also a very good result’. So I think I managed in a very good way because Jorge and Alex [Rins] for example, they are winning since they are 10 years old. I’m not. At all! So to manage the situation for me was not easy, and I think I deal on quite good way.”

200 premier class races and 283 Grand Prix starts in total without a win is quite a tally to remain confident in your abilities.

“Has not been easy but here just one can win,” Espargaro said. “So I always try to work. For me I can’t be upset. I have a dream life. My job is my passion. I get paid for it. I have a super beautiful family. I have the life that almost all kids dream. So I didn’t win, I struggled a lot but it was my job. I was always happy to be here, obviously was not easy in some stages because you feel that you are riding good. Many times during my career I was not fast enough but also other years I was very, very strong and I couldn’t show my potential because I did not have the bike. But it is how it is and this is the job. I always work very, very hard and finally the results are arriving. Some riders can win the title very young and then after two years disappear and go back home. We have a lot of examples of Moto3 and 125 that they are no more here and for me is the opposite.

“I’m like red wine! So I will try to achieve all the good results that I didn’t achieve when I was young.”

The main talking point raised in Espargaro’s presence in recent years has been that of retirement. While he openly admitted to considering it as he entered his thirties, it seems that has now been put on pause.

“It will be not fair to myself to stop right now,” he confirmed. “After all the hard work that I did, I never win before, I was never leading or being one of the strongest of any category. So to be fair to myself, I think it’s good at least to race one more or two years. I felt good enough physically and enjoying riding. So sincerely the future I don’t really care. I want to enjoy this year, trying to be competitive and fast. For sure I have more energy to continue racing. At the same time I have to say that for me, it’s very difficult to be far from my family. Very, very difficult. And obviously if I’m able to win races and to be on the front of the championship, it will be everything a little bit more easy. So trying to keep the momentum now.

“I want to stay for sure one or two more years, but now I just want to try to enjoy the moment. I am very happy here in Aprilia, but you never know what can happen in the future. So what I want right now is to enjoy this bike, to enjoy this moment because I think that this championship is going to be a very good opportunity for me. So I don’t think about my future.”

“It’s going to be very difficult but we are in the mix, in the fight for the victory, that’s for sure. Because as I said before, it’s not a lucky race or wet race, I think we really deserve this. So feet on the ground. The championship is extremely long this year but yes, if we don’t make any mistake, we will be in the mix for the victories and for the podiums every weekend, and I will try my best. I’m more focused than ever. Very, very happy for today but already thinking in America, in Portimao, in Jerez because I will really like to keep the momentum. I’m in the last part of my career for sure because I’m 32 years old, so I want to finish in the best way possible.”

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