Aleix Espargarò crossed the Brno finish line in tenth position, finally scoring the points in this 2020 world championship and for the first time combining the potential of his Aprilia RS-GP 20. He did it on a track that on paper should not have been favorable for Aprilia, given that right here in 2019 Aleix had collected almost 40 seconds from the winner Marquez. This year the gap to the winner, or Binder, has been reduced to just 15 seconds. For some, this data could suggest a huge step forward for the Noale bike, but after pointing this out to Aleix Espargarò, a substantially different point of view immediately emerges from those who see it very differently.
“The new bike is clearly better – Espargarò does not hide – and I like your approach in evaluating the data as you did and see the positive points, which objectively are there. But I’m a competitive type and I see things in a different way too. I look at the fact that the three strongest riders in Brno were riding a KTM, and this really pisses me off. Of course our bike did better in Brno this year, also because last year it was perhaps the worst race of the season for us. Honestly, in the race I didn’t have too much confidence to push, but maybe it was also due to the two crashes in the Jerez race. In any case, I didn’t finish the race far from the podium, so I can be satisfied. But I don’t want to make comparisons with what we did last year, because it is right to compare with what our rivals are doing and we are still far from my goals. “
According to Fabio Quartararo, part of KTM’s advantage in Brno depended on help from Michelin, he would have developed tires very suitable for the RC16. What idea did you have about it?
“I disagree with Fabio. But it is certainly strange what we saw in Brno. Many people, even my friends, asked me what was happening in Brno and why the KTMs were so fast. I felt like someone who doesn’t understand anything about motorcycles after spending 15 years in this paddock. I don’t understand how they got to that level, but I don’t think Michelin helped them in any way. Quartararo was the rider to beat at Jerez, and he used the same Michelins. This is why to say that Michelin was behind Binder’s victory in Brno is incorrect. Binder had a great weekend with KTM and they had a fantastic race. The tires are different compared to 2019, we all know that, but that’s not the reason why KTM won in the Czech Republic. ”
Undoubtedly KTM is doing a great job.
“The KTM arrived in MotoGP after us, and now we can only applaud the work they have done. They have a different mentality than everyone else, a frame that only they use. Last year with Pol it was clear that they had done some steps forward, but now Brad and Miguel are fast too. I’m pushing hard on this project with Aprilia, as Aprilia itself is doing, but at the moment we are not where we would like to be. Here we have won many world championships, and they want to fight to stay in the top five. We are still far. Of course, I can say without problems that this is the best Aprilia I’ve ever had, but it’s still not enough. ”
Now comes the Red Bull Ring, a track that is not very kind to engines. Are you worried?
“Actually last year I suffered more in Brno than I did at the Red Bull Ringn Austria in some situations I was fast, but the RS-GP 20 is something else entirely, so everything will have to be verified. I am positive, I think the improvements to the bike will be effective on this track. Last year I had a lot of chattering both in Brno and Austria, while this year I didn’t have any chattering in Brno so I hope I don’t have any here either. I feel optimistic, in Brno I finished 10th, but in reality I finished five seconds off the podium. I came close, even though I know we need another step to really fight to get on that podium. ”
Going back to KTM, this will also be their home track. They have done so many tests here, will they be the bikes to beat again?
“Honestly, I don’t know what kind of work they are doing in KTM. Pol is their best rider and I never talk about bikes with him. I think their mentality is very different from that of the Italians and even the Spaniards. They certainly did. a huge step forward on electronics, but in my opinion the real difference is the engine, the pure power. The KTM is a missile, when they straighten the bike and open the throttle they make an impression. It looks like the Ducati of the best times. They have huge traction and I think overall their bike is no better than ours but they have an engine that makes a very big difference. They can brake late, they don’t stress the bike to get too much speed in the middle of the corner and this also helps with the tires. ”
Dani Pedrosa has undoubtedly helped. Maybe a differently structured test team would be needed?
“There aren’t many secrets in this world. The more you invest, the more you work, the faster you get to results. I hope we can learn a lesson from all of this and maybe try to be more competitive next year. I know that Aprilia is investing, it is trying. But with the problem we had with Iannone, everything became more difficult. Smtih was supposed to be a tester and is racing with us. The situation in Aprilia is complex, but I don’t want to use this as an excuse. Lorenzo Savadori is doing a great job “.
What idea did you have about the episode between your brother Pol and Johann Zarco in Brno?
“It seemed like a racing accident. Honestly, and I say this not because I’m talking about my brother, if we’re not on the last lap I don’t think it’s necessary to take a risk like that, as Zarco took it. I don’t see the need to do the maneuver that Johann did at that moment. ”