Aleix Espargaro secured his fourth front row start of 2022 on the Aprilia at Le Mans with another third place on Saturday.
Well inside the previous lap record - which was broken on numerous occasions across practice for the French GP weekend - Espargaro’s 1’30.609 saw him just 0.159 adrift of the pole position and on the edge of the front row for Sunday’s 27-lap race.
“I'm happy because Le Mans is not really one of my favourite tracks,” espargaro admitted from he qualifying press conference on Saturday evening. “I struggle a little bit on the stop and go tracks but I felt so good since the FP1 yesterday.
“Today I did a big mistake because I crash and destroy bike one, second bike I didn't ride it during the weekend so I was not really sure about how the bike will react but I was very fast. I just missed the pole for one-tenth - on the last split I was not able to be fast like the red guys but happy overall. Is the third consecutive race that we show that we are strong and fast and this makes me very happy.
Despite the impressive run of form, and remaining loyal to the project during a turbulent few years, the Spaniard is still without a future contract on the RS-GP.
“I don't know really what to say,” the 32-year-old admitted when questioned on his lack of security at the firm he’s spent the past six seasons. “It doesn't depends on me.
“I said many times I want to stay in Aprilia but I don't really understand what's going on. It makes me a bit sad, sincerely. Every race a little bit more, but I cannot control. So it is how it is but for sure I will not wait forever.”
Sunday’s race is anticipating another close run contest, as 2022 is shaping up to be across the board, but with the Bugatti track’s quickly changeable weather, anything could happen.
“We have good pace,” he said confidently. “On FP4 I struggle a little bit with the soft rear tyre but with the medium I felt really strong, really good. I can definitely stop better the bike so we are ready.
“Is difficult again, here, to overtake so starting from first row will make my race easier. In fact, the track has some overtaking points, quite a lot but the track is not the problem. Is how the championship is, how these bikes react. I think you can overtake in this circuit but the problem is to get close to the bike in front of you, increase your tyre pressure then you have to brake early and if not you crash.
“Is very easy in this moment to - as we saw in Portimao with Jack [Miller[ and Joan [Mir] - it's very easy that this happens. Very easy. By braking two metres later to overtake the guy in front of you, you just lose the front and you can touch obviously the guy in front of you. Is very difficult to overtake now.
“Unfortunately, the weather forecast for tomorrow is like every year in Le Mans, unpredictable,” Espargaro confirmed on Sunday’s threatening rain. “So let's wait and see. We cannot control the weather so I'm not really stressed because there's nothing I can do to change it but for sure I would prefer a dry race because we have strong pace. Fast enough to fight with them. So, let's see tomorrow morning when we wake up, the skies.”