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Aleix Espargaro talks 2016, Suzuki and the future at Aprilia

Team Suzuki Ecstar rider sits down with ahead of the season finale in Valencia

Aleix Espargaro: "Is the best Suzuki in MotoGP™ history"

Aleix Espargaro has had a tough season in 2016 by his own standards, struggling to find the feeling to push. The Granollers native talks through the season – and the future – with, as he prepares to say goodbye to Suzuki and begins a new adventure with Aprilia Racing Team Gresini.

Aleix Espargaro: “It has been a difficult season for me so far… I’ve struggled a lot, especially the first part of the season, with the feeling of the bike. Especially the front part of the bike. I couldn’t push as I want, I couldn’t ride aggressively, so it was difficult to find a balance, a compromise, a good setting… I’m struggling with the Michelin front and until the last part of the season I didn’t start to feel that I could ride aggressively, to feel like the “normal Aleix”. And it has been very difficult.”

Espargaro knows the line between hero and zero, this season finding himself crashing out of contention too many times – forced to push beyond his feeling for the bike in a bid to stay in with the frontrunners.

AE41: “When the feelings are not great, even if you push, the only thing that happens is that you crash, and crash and crash… and this is what happened this season: I never felt good enough to be competitive, but I tried my best always, and I had many crashes.”

The Spaniard explains that he has tried to change the way he rides to get round the problem, but that the Suzuki itself, however, is now a real contender:

AE41: “When I saw that Maverick [Viñales] was very competitive since the beginning I knew that I had a very good bike. I feel that I’ve lost a good opportunity to fight for the podium every single weekend. The bike now is in the best moment since I arrived at Suzuki. Especially regarding the engine, the power has improved a lot this season. With the seamless transmission also we make a good step and overall I think the Suzuki now is very close to Honda and Yamaha. It’s a very competitive bike and I would say that it’s the best Suzuki in MotoGP™ history of 4 strokes. I feel upset to leave now.”

The next chapter in Espargaro’s career sees him switch Suzuki for another factory ride, with Aprilia, as he joins Aprilia Racing Team Gresini to ride alongside Moto2™ graduate Sam Lowes from next season.

AE41: “Next season is going to be interesting. Aprilia is making good steps, the bike is more and more competitive every single weekend and Alvaro [Bautista] is showing in some races that the bike is close to the top six. So it will be a pleasure for me to help Aprilia in the development of the bike, and I hope we can do the same job that we did with Suzuki and put the Aprilia on top. I’ll be a factory rider again so obviously the objective is the podium. I’ll work very very hard and I don’t care if the bike is not competitive at the beginning. The objective has to be fight for the podium. But right now I’m not thinking about Aprilia or trying the Aprilia. I’m really focused on the Suzuki - to say thanks for the confidence they gave me these two seasons I’ll try to be very focused from FP1 in Valencia, try to do a good job. And the best way to finish the season and to finish my job with Suzuki would be to finish on the podium.”