Espargaro: Vinales' arrival will prove I'm one of top MotoGP riders

Aleix Espargaro is adamant he is “one of the best three” riders in MotoGP and believes the arrival of Maverick Vinales at Aprilia next year will prove this.

Espargaro: Vinales' arrival will prove I'm one of top MotoGP riders

Espargaro made his MotoGP debut in 2009 and has been riding in the class full-time since 2010 (though spent a year in Moto2 in 2011), racing on Ducati, CRT, Open class, Suzuki and Aprilia machinery in his tenure.

Despite his vast experience, Espargaro’s general lack of frontrunning machinery in MotoGP means he has just one podium to his credit – a second in a flag-to-flag Aragon Grand Prix in 2014.

Espargaro has helmed development of the Aprilia since joining the marque in 2017 and has enjoyed a strong 2021 campaign, scoring 67 points courtesy of regular top eight performances.

Next season he will be joined by Vinales, who formally parted ways with Yamaha last week following his suspension after deliberately trying to damage his bike’s engine in the Styrian GP.

The nine-time MotoGP race winner is expected to bridge Aprilia’s gap to the podium, and Espargaro is convinced his former Suzuki teammate will help prove to the world that he is one of the best riders in the premier class.

“I am convinced that I am one of the three best riders in MotoGP,” Espargaro said during the British Grand Prix weekend.

“I don't need to have Valentino Rossi as my teammate to prove how good I am; I'm convinced of that.

“I'm sure I'll be able to ride faster than Vinales, and I'm sure it will be good to have Maverick here to convince those who aren't yet convinced of my level.”

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Vinales will make his Aprilia debut next week at a two-day test at Misano, with it thought Aprilia is working hard to get him to race the bike as soon as possible.

However, Aprilia CEO Massimo Rivola said on Friday at Silverstone that it would not rush Vinales into a race seat before he was ready.

Espargaro comes into Saturday at the British GP having ended Friday’s running seventh overall, while teammate Lorenzo Savadori was over five seconds off the pace in last as he struggles with a broken ankle from his fiery Styrian GP crash with Dani Pedrosa.

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