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MotoGP Mugello: ‘We are contenders’ - Espargaro

Aleix Espargaro topped off what had already been a positive Mugello weekend for Aprilia by scoring the factory’s first podium at the Italian GP.

Seventh was the closest both they and he had got to the Tuscan rostrum on previous encounters, with Espargaro securing third in a heated race against a pack of hungry Ducati riders on home turf.

“I'm very happy,” Espargaro confirmed on Sunday evening. “Has been an absolutely fantastic weekend. It's a shame that yesterday I was not able to be a little more competitive in the qualifying. I knew that will be difficult to overtake in the race.


“The VR46 guys were awesome. Because with the lack of experience they had, they made no mistakes, they were very fast. So unfortunately, I lose some time there, precious time that at the end, doesn't allow me to fight for the victory.

“But a lot of very beautiful things for us during this weekend. I think I put a good show out there. So I hope that everybody from Aprilia - it was a lot of people from Piaggio in the garage - so I hope they enjoy with the fight and yeah, the podium has been a good trophy.

“I overtake a lot,” he explained of his eventful race. "I overtake in the first lap three or four times then I fight with Johann [Zarco] and then I fight also with the two Mooney bikes that I was able to overtake. Also the first two laps with Fabio [Quartararo] we have two contacts so it was more fun.

“We are just talking all the time that we cannot overtake due the wings, due the pressure of the front tyre but also we have to remember that the level of every rider in this category now is unbelievable. So forget the technology, forget the aerodynamics. Everybody brakes late. Everyone is very fast and nobody's making mistakes. So this is the reason why it's difficult to overtake.

“Today I think the show was a little bit better, unfortunately I couldn't fight for the victory at the end but I enjoy more than Jerez, “ he continued. “I was aiming for the victory but I take the podium, I'm very happy with the points that I bring back home. Mugello is always very difficult to fight against the Ducatis. Is true that today I was hoping to reduce the gap with Fabio. I lose the opportunity. He was very, very fast. But Aprilia, I have to say that today the engine was very good. Actually better than Fabio's one but I was not able to beat him. The bike works very good so yeah, we are very close and hopefully we can reduce the gap in my home GP.”

With Espargaro building the momentum, the double header heads directly to Barcelona and the Catalunya Circuit - a track he practically grew up next to. So a fifth podium in succession could well be on the cards

“I will try, or the second victory why not?” the Granollers born rider said. “I'm very happy. Enjoying the moment, you cannot believe how much I'm enjoying this moment. For sure is going to be the most special home GP of my career because I arrived there fighting for the title in MotoGP and yes, I will try my best.

“I think Barcelona layout is going to be good for my bike. I will give everything I have to fight for the victory in front of my people and let's see if we can stress a little bit more Fabio and put more emotion on the championship.

“Today I try everything I had but Pecco was perfect. No mistakes, very fast. So I will try again in Barcelona. I know how difficult is this category to win from so hopefully I can do a good job from Friday. If I want to fight for the victory, I know I need to fight for the pole position. If not, it's gonna be very difficult on Sunday. So yeah, I will try my best. We will enjoy I think good weather, sun in Barcelona, so hopefully we can put a good show in my home GP.”

While the past few races have thrown up many differing challenges, the trio on top has remained fairly constant - with the added exception of Gresini’s Enea Bastianini. Title talk seems firmly tied to Sunday’s victor Pecco Bagnaia, the reigning champion and the blossoming Espargaro. Something he wholeheartedly agrees with.

“We race in very different tracks, is fun because we have three completely different bikes but we are always on top,” the 32-year-old affirmed. “On the practices, on the pace, on the races we are fighting. So yes, I think we are, the three of us the contenders but it's going to be very long. It's 20 races. The summer break sometimes can be good or bad for you. So we have to go race by race. But the first part of the season we prove that we are the three more consistent riders.”


The Noale factory also remains at the top, by seven points, in the Team Championship, something much of the paddock did not see coming.

“I don't think Aprilia without me can perform at that level but I also have a lot of doubts that I can perform at that level with another machine,” Espargaro stated amicably. “So this is not about yourself. This is about the team. Looks like is an individual sport but it's not. We could see in many factories this year the difference between one rider and the other. So this is about a mix.

“We have a very good feeling inside the garage. We are doing a great job. Once again, is still early on the championship but yes, my goal is to fight for the title and yes, I believe that I can fight for this title till the end. So I appreciate that the other riders start to change their mentality but this will not change mine. I have my route and I will try to follow till Valencia.”

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