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MotoGP Le Mans: Espargaro targeting starts with carbon clutch

Aleix Espargaro is as confident as ever heading into Le Mans after Aprilia introduced a carbon clutch for the French GP

Sitting second in the MotoGP standings after six races, Espargaro’s season is going from strength to strength as he establishes himself as a bonafide championship challenger on the RS-GP.

“The first part of the season has been great,” Espargaro reflected on his stellar 2022 from the French paddock. “I've been enjoying a lot riding the bike and obviously the potential of the bike this year is clearly better than in the past years.


“We are just seven points behind Fabio [Quartararo]. It's difficult to predict how the bike will work here because, especially the last seasons, has been quite strange regarding the weather condition so we don't have a lot of information. But so far the bike has been quite competitive every single track so I will try to work hard from FP1 to prepare the bike as best as possible and let's see how is Sunday.”

Despite standing on the podium in three of the past six races, once on the top step, and crossed the line narrowly adrift in the opening battle at Qatar, the RS-GP has struggled off the start line. An ominous prospect for his rivals if Espargaro and the Noale factory can fix the missing link in his otherwise faultless performance, something they were working on at the Jerez test immediately following the Spanish GP.

“Lorenzo Savadori was riding the last two races as a wildcard with our bike with a lot of different things,” the Spaniard explained. “We try a lot of new things on Monday. A couple of new things I will use in Mugello, but the clutch, I will use a carbon clutch for the first time during this weekend.

“Is quite a good improvement, lighter and better for the start. Aprilia is working hard to try to reduce the gap in the places where we can improve. The start was one of these places and they did a good job.”

Espargaro’s commitment to the Aprilia project in recent, and somewhat turbulent times, added to his title-contending run of form so far this season should leave the 32-year-old as a sure thing as far as contract negotiations go. So far, however, that has not been the case and with two new riders up for grabs thanks to the impending exit of Suzuki at the close of 2022, the waters appear further muddied.

“For sure the situation has changed quite a lot now with the exit of Suzuki,|” Espargaro confirmed on Thursday. “And also with the second thing of Yamaha maybe changing - I heard some rumours about Aprilia can have satellite team which will be great. But, at the end of the day, it's everything rumours.

“Everything is still in talks so we cannot control this. So I don't really think about it, I just try to focus on riding because at the end of the day is where it counts.

“To be as close as possible of Fabio in the championship or even trying to gain some points, is what will change more for me but you cannot control the rest.”

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