Espargaro: Aprilia’s Jerez MotoGP practice pace “shocking”

Aleix Espargaro admits his pace on used medium tyres during Spanish Grand Prix FP2 on his Aprilia MotoGP bike was “a little bit shocking”, having ended Friday third overall.

Espargaro has made a strong start to the 2021 season aboard the new RS-GP, scoring top 10 results in the opening three rounds and currently occupying sixth in the championship.

On Friday at Jerez Espargaro was second in FP1 and followed up his speed in the morning with the third-fastest time of the day in FP2.

But it was his run on used medium rubber that turned heads, with Espargaro managing to lap consistently in the 1m37s on a compound that had already done seven laps when he started his run.

Espargaro admits this gives him “motivation” for the race but is expecting the Yamahas and Suzukis to get closer to him on Saturday when there is more grip on track.

“For sure everybody will get closer, we know how close always it is in Jerez,” he said.

“But apart from one hot lap, yes I think we have good pace.

“Also, for me it was a little bit shocking when I had more than 10 laps on the tyre and I was able to lap in 1m37s every lap.

“So, I felt very good and this will give me motivation for the race because I’m sure that especially the Yamahas, maybe Suzukis, will get closer tomorrow.

“But it’s difficult to go a lot faster than 1m37s on race pace.

“So, already in day one we are able to lap in 1m37s on used tyres, so they have to improve more than me.

“So, I’m very happy about the pace today.”

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Espargaro insisted after the Portuguese GP that a podium challenge for Aprilia would come in 2021.

Asked by Motorsport.com if his pace at Jerez on Friday left him feeling as if this could be the weekend, he replied: “The good thing is it looks like Aprilia and Aleix is working well everywhere we go.

“So, it’s not about one single track.

“Anyway, as it’s the first time for us being competitive like this obviously you have the doubt if you will move to a new track and you will still be competitive.

“I have to say today from lap one, lap two in FP1 I felt very strong and very, very comfortable with the bike, especially regarding with the race tyre, I felt I could maintain a very high lap time pace.

“So, overall satisfied. The track is a bit slippery, so after all first day, all riders in every single track will put more rubber down on track.

“So, I think the things may change a little bit. But why not [aim for the podium]? I feel good, so let’s see.”

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