Two weeks ago in Argentina we witnessed the collapse of Aleix Espargaro, who instead seems to have made a comeback in this Saturday’s Austin Sprint Race. The Aprilia standard-bearer started from the seventh spot on the grid, but with great stubbornness he managed to enter the fight for the podium, missing it by just over three tenths and remaining in fourth position at the finish line.
Despite missing the podium, Espargaro is decidedly satisfied with the way his weekend went and with the work done by Aprilia, which put him in a position to be able to fight with the best. In this sense, he also explains the work done in the garage: “I tried to prepare for the grand prix in a slightly different way, I tried to be a little more incisive in analyzing the setting, compared to Vinales and Oliveira. I did everything possible right up to the end. Normally we don’t change the geometry of the bike much, but from yesterday to today we’ve made a totally different bike that went in a direction that I’ve never liked”.
“But this morning I felt very good, they did a really good job and gave me a very good bike. In fact, on the third lap, when I saw that I was almost setting the qualifying time in the race, I said that this bike works. I gave everything up to the end and I’m satisfied. Too bad we weren’t able to give the team a podium ”, he reveals, explaining how in reality the change has turned out to be decidedly positive.
The conditions in which the riders took to the track were anything but simple, in addition to a disastrous asphalt, the high temperatures represented a coefficient of difficulty: “I think it was a normal Sprint because if we look at the stopwatch, we shot with a beastly speed! In Austin, with a track more destroyed than ever, with all the crashes in every category, having done so many laps in low 3s, having lowered the track record by half a second with 50 degrees of asphalt, there could be no overtaking and it was normal that there was a lot of gap. The speed was very high, so I can be very happy.”
The key to the race for Aleix was the start, the initial stages were complicated and prevented him from fighting for the podium right away. In fact, in the final laps he had the same speed as Jorge Martin, with whom he fought for third place: “The problem was that at the start I always had a second from Pecco, I tried to hold on but I couldn’t get a slipstream. So I had braking at the limit at 12, when Alex Marquez overtook me, I took to the slipstream and went much faster. I couldn’t stop the bike, I went wide and Martin passed me. I had something more than him in terms of speed in the final laps, I tried but I couldn’t”.
The feeling at the end of the third Sprint Race of the season is that there is much less tension between the riders and that overtaking has been cleaner, with a less aggressive approach: “Today the race was very calm also because we are already in the third race , everyone is more relaxed. There have also been many injuries and everyone in his head is aware of it. But today Pecco pushed really hard, the others behind pushed hard not to let him escape. The pace was incredible!”.
“Tomorrow I hope to be in the fight too. I’ll try to do my best to be close to them. I think our speed was similar to that of Rins and Martin, only that I made a few mistakes that didn’t allow me to be on the podium.” . But they are not faster than me, Pecco is. The way he pulls up the bike, how he prepares for the exit… these are things that allow him to have better traction than everyone else. Right now he is racing on another level, maybe we can’t reach him, but we still have room for improvement and we hope to do it for Sunday’s race ”, concludes Aleix Espargaro.