A Post-season Catch-up: Aleix Espargaro

Friday, 29 November 2013

Fresh from testing ahead of the winter break, Aleix Espargaro shares his first impressions of NGM Mobile Forward Racing, aspirations for 2014 and of future duels with brother Pol and Aspar replacement Nicky Hayden.

Since the curtain fell on MotoGP™ 2013, Espargaro has had opportunities to familiarise himself with the new FTR-Yamaha package courtesy of test sessions in both Valencia and Jerez - the latest having taken place this week - as he prepares to race ‘Open’ machinery for the first time.

Aleix, which conclusions have you drawn from this new bike?

Well, the bike is new and a few teething problems have prevented us from completing as many laps as we would have liked - plus the circuit in Jerez was very cold to be able to draw any real conclusions from it - but we’ve been able to test the bike well.

It works great, the level is very high and close to the factory bikes. We have also witnessed some handicaps; for sure, one of the difficulties will be electronics as we are continuing to learn about the spec ECU, but the start has been quite hopeful.

In terms of riding, how do you find the bike? It’s very different to a CRT…

Yes, especially the engine and chassis which really ‘go’ a lot more than the Aprilia did – but of course, it is going to be different because it has a lot more power. It is clear that the potential of the bike is much better than what we had with the CRTs and we will be able to go much further with it.

Now you find yourself sharing a garage with real experience in the form of Colin Edwards…

It is my pleasure to have Colin there with me, not least for this brand-new project which will always require many changes when it comes to the bike. Colin has a lot of experience and I believe he’ll be able to give some different points of view to mine. He is a very sensitive and delicate rider when it comes to changes with the bike. He has worked with FTR, Magneti Marelli and Yamaha over the years, so he is the perfect rider and I think that together we can make a very good combination.

Despite usually being the highest-placed CRT rider in 2013, you regularly complained that the gap to those in front was too large. How do you envisage the first year of the ‘Open’ category and can deficits be significantly cut?

For sure, there will be opportunities to close that gap and in the first two tests we have gone quicker than the Aprilia. Basically, this bike has much more potential. Yes, we have to work on it, but the goal is to be much closer to the front in races than I was able to be with the CRT.

In 2014, you will come across different rivals and for different reasons. One of them will be brother Pol (Monster Yamaha Tech3) – now a direct adversary!...

Indeed! Clearly, he is not just my brother. He is also the Moto2™ World Champion and I will be trying to beat him just as I try to beat anybody else. Yes, it is true that he will be special and it won’t always be easy, but of course I will be trying to beat him!

Another clear opponent will be Nicky Hayden, who has taken the place you vacated at Power Electronics Aspar. Let us imagine that he and the new customer Honda RCV1000R are ahead of you next year – that could become rather frustrating…

No, no…I think at the first test in Valencia we saw the potential that the FTR-Yamaha has. I hope I am not mistaken, but the conclusion was that we were able to take our bike to an equal level with, and indeed exceed, that of the Honda. The Honda is basically a finished product, whereas we still have everything to do with ours, but our bike still went quicker than the Honda despite having done less laps; with this in mind, I think we have more potential. Many people have told me I am making a mistake in switching teams at this point and that the Honda will be better. Time will tell, but what I can say is that both the team and the bike are better than we expected.

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