Aprilia looked almost unbeatable going into Friday’s Argentine Grand Prix. The Noale-based manufacturer led both free practice sessions with a 1-2 and consequently dominated the timesheets, proving to be the bike to beat on the Termas de Río Hondo circuit, where Aleix Espargaro had already won last year season.
The rider from Granollers was able to turn the situation around and, after finishing FP1 in second position, almost three tenths behind Maverick Vinales, he led FP2 with a 162 thousandth lead over his teammate. The Aprilias have been able to dominate the Ducatis and are aiming high, even if the eldest of the Espargaros wants to keep calm before thinking about big goals for Sunday.
At the end of the day, the Catalan said he was satisfied, but aware that it’s still only the first day of the Grand Prix: “The truth is that we’re satisfied. But down to earth, it’s only Friday. It’s true that we reconfirmed the good sensations that we had here in Argentina, mine, or even Maverick’s this year,” he told various media outlets including Motorsport.com.
When asked about Vinales and the reason for the good relationship between them, Aleix was clear in explaining the reasons, even if Maverick is undoubtedly the first rival to beat: “It’s called respect. Obviously it makes me angry when my partner He’s ahead of the team, more than anyone else. I’d rather finish seventh and he ninth than me second and him first. That’s how things go. But you have to have respect and be humble enough,” he continued.
“This morning I was losing a lot of time compared to Maverick in several points and I spent an hour with the telemetry to understand where to improve. This is the sense of teamwork and when one day we fight for the World Championship I’m sure the sparks will fly. but for now there’s respect. The more Aprilias ahead of us, the better. Today in FP2 I was also able to help Raul Fernandez and I will always give my best for this brand,” he added about teamwork within the Italian brand .
Afterwards, Espargaro wanted to focus on the continuity of performance needed on Saturday: “It’s Friday and I’ll be honest, we’re very fast but we have to qualify well. Otherwise it doesn’t matter. Also in Portugal I was fastest, I set the fastest lap and I set the track record on Sunday and that didn’t help me get beyond ninth position,” he said.
Finally, the number 41 wanted to clarify that, despite the dominance in practice, the bike still has room for improvement: “The bike doesn’t go very well, but it’s better than the others here, that’s clear. Look at how Fabio Quartararo is suffering, or even the Ducatis aren’t at our level. But the bike isn’t doing so well: we don’t have grip, it moves a lot to the front… The Aprilia was much better at Portimao than here,” he continued.
“Both in FP1 and FP2 there was little grip. With the first tire I interrupted my time attack because I had no traction. I went to the pits and told the engineers that the track looked like ice. Even my time of 38 “5 is slow compared to last year,” he concluded.
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