Aleix Espargaró is not experiencing his best weeks of the season. The man from Granollers, third in the general standings, 27 points behind Pecco Bagnaia, could have his last shot at the Malaysian Grand Prix to keep his title aspirations alive.
The pilot himself recognized that this was the weekend to “stop Bagnaia”, but he has not started the weekend on the right foot . In FP1 he only completed five laps to Sepang, and the rain in FP2 prevented him from improving his morning times.
“A difficult start to the most important weekend of the year,” Aleix described at the end of the day. “I had a serious problem with the clutch on my first start, I stopped and went back out, and I had a crash because of that problem. to stop due to an engine problem,” he explained.
Nor is it the best atmosphere in the Italian box, especially after Espargaró’s criticism last week in Australia. “I was a little critical of our performance after the last races, in Australia, and it seems that for Aprilia I was too hard. Now let’s analyze what happened in the first free test. The results are there,” he defends.
“In the second part of the season we haven’t been at the level of the first, and I can’t do more. I believe in this team and I think that next year we can fight for the title again if we do things like in the first part of the season. If we had followed that line, I would be the leader now”.
The truth is that it was difficult to see Aleix on the podium after the summer break , and it is not the first time that the summer holidays have marked a change in the trend in his results. “It is the third year that we have these problems, that we are slow in the second part of the season. But it is something that we have to talk about internally. I do not think it will be difficult to fix. The bike is the same since the preseason, but you cannot develop it during the season. But now I can’t overtake anyone on the straight, and in pre-season the Aprilia was very fast.”
“Aprilia learned a lot this year,” he continued. “How to handle the pressure of being at the top of the championship. As a driver, I also learned to handle the pressure, to fight for podiums, for victories and for pole positions. I think that next year will be better. But in the second part of the year we made mistakes and I don’t feel like we have that speed. I also didn’t think the Aprilia was the best bike then, and I didn’t think it’s the worst now.”
But, despite the friction of playing a title, Aleix feels “loved” in Noale. “I’m very proud of the work done and of this bike. But I think that’s not enough to fight for the title. I think Aprilia love me because I’m honest. But when I criticize, it’s because I think the guys are capable of giving more.” .
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