Motegi.- 17 points behind the leader of the World Championship, Fabio Quartararo, the Aprilia rider was one of the protagonists this Thursday in Motegi at the press conference for the contender for the title, prior to the Japanese Grand Prix, in which he assured that he will to maintain his way of approaching the races as he has done all season: “taking advantage of opportunities and staying calm”, but, at the same time, “seeing when I should be more aggressive to attack”.
Aleix Espargaró, for the first time in his long career, is clearly fighting for the world championship and after two difficult races in Austria and Misano, the Spaniard returned to the podium at Motorland last Sunday.
“Getting the podium in Aragon gave me a boost of motivation, I was happy with sixth places on difficult circuits, but after two crashes in Aragon and a difficult weekend, managing it was not easy and getting the podium was fantastic,” he explained. Alex.
One of the keys to Motegi is, without a doubt, the strong brakes.
“During the Misano tests we improved a bit in that aspect and it depends a lot on the grip of the track and the rear tyre, I’m not too worried, I like Motegi, we haven’t raced here for a long time, the conditions don’t seem to be good, the training program is also shorter, it will be a very tricky weekend,” he admitted.
It has been three years since he has raced in Japan, the last time, in 2019, Pecco Bagnaia and Fabio Quartararo were rookies, which makes Aleix more expert on this track.
“I don’t think he’s going to say that much, Fabio had a very good race in 2019 in his rookie year, something difficult to achieve, we have competed in other categories, we all know the circuit, we will see the tire casing which is new here, We’ll see how everything goes,” he said.
Despite the great situation he is experiencing, Aleix does not feel pressured.
“In the beginning or middle of the season, when I started to be at the top, I felt some pressure, but now I am relaxed, enjoying the season a lot with my family, it is something that I will never forget, I know that I will have my opportunities. I keep trying to do what myself from Qatar, take my chances, do my job and stay calm.
Regarding the weather, Motegi can offer a chaotic race, like last Sunday, and an opportunity to cut further.
“It would be great to have a bit of chaos, MotoGP is MotoGP and anything can happen, we saw it in Aragon, Fabio crashed on the first lap after having a super fast pace in practice. We’ll see how the weekend goes, there are many factors that are mixed, the schedules, the climatic conditions, that we have not been here for a long time … many things to take into account”.
“We’re going to go a bit blind with the tires on Sunday, because it rains for practice, we’ll have to pay attention to the choice, it’s going to be a very tactical weekend”.
Despite the fact that MotoGP organized a press conference as a contender for the title with only three riders, Enea Bastianini’s good timing and his mathematical options also place him in the battle.
“He has a lot of speed, he has shown it, with a very strong bike. Anything can happen, it will not be easy for Ducati to understand the situation and deal with it, Enea has mathematical options to win the title, but Pecco has more, It is going to be complicated for them to manage it”, warned the Catalan.
For Aleix, being in the fight for the championship this year is something very special.
“The situation is very beautiful, three drivers in only 17 points fighting for the World Championship and from three different brands,” he remarks.
And when they ask him about his rivals, he insists on the management that they must do, especially Ducati.
“Possibly the Yamaha has the worst engine of the three, but Fabio has managed to have a lot of consistency and find a lot of cornering, and also a lot of agility in changes of direction, in that he is the best”.
The one from Aprilia does not see Fabio touched, despite the bleeding of points lost in recent races.
“A month ago we all said that Ducati had an army of motorcycles to fight against Fabio or against me and now I think the enemy has it at home, Enea must not forget that he has his chances of being champion and that has to be managed, someone he has to do it from above, or not. But we’ll see how they do it. In the end, Fabio has the most to lose, he’s the leader and the world champion, I don’t see him touched, but he has to feel the pressure. He has the feeling that he has the worst bike of the three, we are going to have a fun end of the season”.
“Fabio has the pressure that he has the most to lose and Pecco also has pressure because his team is the one that invests the most and his bike is the best, any rider goes fast with that bike, and he has another rider at home who goes fast. It’s only worth winning for Bagnaia after the mistakes of last year and at the beginning of this year, so I don’t know which of the two has more pressure to win. I, on the other hand, don’t have pressure and Aprilia doesn’t put it on me, something I don’t know if the same thing happens in the other two factories”.
For the Spaniard, regularity is his best weapon.
“The key to being here is to have scored points in all the races, to finish sixth in Austria, in such a bad weekend and to know how to accept that you can’t do more, it’s very important.”
In addition to braking, the use of the rear holeshot height variation device can be decisive on this circuit.
“We have analyzed the data from 2019 and we were far from the highest performance of the engine due to the wheelies, now with the rear device we will be able to have better power transfer, I think it can be used five or six times in each lap, so it will be very demanding for piloting”.
Finally, the Aprilia rider admitted that if he wants to win the title he will have to take risks to come back.
“Without a doubt, I’m 17 points away so if I want to recover I’ll have to risk a little more, but I don’t know if now is the time or I have to wait, in the races I’ll see when the right time to do it is,” settled the man from Granollers .