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6 hours ago
By motogp.com

Espargaro, Iannone show signs of Aprilia promise

A best finish of the season for the Spaniard and P11 for the injured Italian signal a good weekend at MotorLand for the Italian factory

The Gran Premio Michelin® de Aragon was a solid weekend for Aprilia Racing Team Gresini. Aleix Espargaro was able to mix it with the leading riders for the entire race on Sunday, while an injured Andrea Iannone was just over a second from a top 10 finish.

For Espargaro, it was yet another good performance at MotorLand Aragon. Since his 2014 P2, the Spaniard has finished 6th, 7th, 6th, 6th and 7th, the letter three results all coming on board his RS-GP. It’s been a difficult year for Aprilia, with the elder Espargaro brother picking up just three top 10s. However, the gritty Granollers-born rider's excellent race in Aragon is a promising sign that the Italian factory can finish the season strong, before a completely new prototype Aprilia appears in 2020. When reflecting on the Aragon GP race, Esparagro was pleased to have mixed it with the leading contenders but experienced some issues with the front tyre that he wasn’t expecting.

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In 15 mins: Aragon Grand Prix MotoGP™ highlights

“Yes today was important to finish, to fight with the top guys and we did a solid race,” began the number 41 rider. “Sincerely I expect to have something more, I suffered a little bit with the front tyre and I didn’t expect that after yesterday’s feeling, especially the first part of the race. I couldn’t close the corner as I did yesterday and I couldn’t follow the front guys.

“But anyway, I did a really solid race, fast pace, just four seconds from second position so I’m happy overall. This is the circuit where it suits the RS-GP really good and we did our best result of the season so I hope that this has given us some positive energy before we fly to Asia.

“With the full tank I didn’t have the best feeling at all. I was risking a little bit to follow the Yamahas and Miller, but after four laps when I had a little bit less weight on the front with the fuel, then I started to push, I had a good pace, and for a lot of laps I was able to follow the lead group. So it was obviously a good feeling for the rider to be able to fight with the top guys, it’s fantastic. About yesterday, I was not super happy. Qualifying tyre, following a fast guy is not super important. But to do 25 laps with the leading group, this is very important.”

The paddock now jets off to Asia and Australia for the four flyaway races. Can we expect Espargaro to be battling for the top six once again before the end of the season? “We need to stay calm. The reality is the reality. I think we will struggle in Thailand, Australia and Malaysia will be better for us but it’s very important to try and finish the season in the best way. To give good energy and good feelings to the technicians to prepare the new bike for next season.”

As for teammate Iannone, his second position in Q1 meant Aprilia got both their bikes into Q2 for the first time. After crashing at Misano the previous weekend, the Italian was struggling with a shoulder injury but managed to scrap the likes of Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) and Red Bull KTM Tech 3’s Miguel Oliveira – and beat them. But how did Iannone feel after a battling P11?

“I started well, not bad on the first five laps. I had a good pace but I start to struggle with my shoulder,” explained the 13-time Grand Prix race winner. “I felt a lot of pain but I have resistance. On the braking I started to feel a lot of pain and I decided not to push at the limit because at the end it was really difficult to finish the race, for sure I tried to manage my shoulder situation the best. So we close in 11th position, not like I want but I think it was the maximum for me in this condition. But in any case we continue to work, and in the end it was a good battle with Petrucci and Oliveira.”

Thailand is next up, a track that Aleix doesn’t expect to have the best pace at. However, both riders will be giving it their all to once again penetrate the top 10 before the triple-header.

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A good day out for Aprilia at MotorLand Aragon

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