Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s Aleix Espargaro caught up with the Spanish MotoGP™ Podcast recently, revealing that he almost joined Ducati before signing with Suzuki for the 2015 season.
“In the end, everything goes as it goes. I had a very unstructured sports career at the beginning and when I came to MotoGP, I have always shown that I am a very hard-working rider,” says the elder Espargaro brother, responding to a question about whether he thinks he’s ever been considered for bikes that are able to fight for victories week in, week out.
“When I signed after the year with Forward Racing, when I achieved 6th in the world with the Open bike, I signed with Suzuki, but I had shaken hands with Gigi Dall'Igna three weeks before to go to Ducati, it was practically all done, and by the time Dovizioso ended up staying.
“So I went to Suzuki. At that time I had the opportunity to be in two of the most powerful factories in the championship and ended up in Suzuki. I had a good year with Suzuki and the second year the reality is that the change of tyres from Bridgestone to Michelin cost me a lot, but it is not an excuse, I was not up to it: Maverick won a Grand Prix, he was much more competitive than me. I think I didn't have a bad year because I did a lot of top five and top six results, but I was not at Maverick's level, that's the reality.
“Then I ended up at Aprilia and I think I'm doing a good job. I think the other factories know this and I am only 30 years old. Unfortunately, this year it is being the way it is because if I had a competitive bike, as it seems to be the RS-GP 2020, I could demonstrate many things and who knows what could happen in 2021, but for now I have no choice but to play Zwift and enjoy my children.”
After an extremely tough 2019, Espargaro admits that he had to think heavily about his future in the sport. “Last year the truth is that I had a very bad time, it was a very disappointing year, I did not enjoy anything on the bike. Although it is a job, but when you don't enjoy anything and you keep on playing your life and you keep dragging yourself around the circuits, falling, the results don't come... I had a very bad time.
“I had to be away from my family and there came a time in winter, in preseason, after Valencia, at the Jerez Test, that I had practically no desire to ride a motorcycle. I got to talk about it a lot and go around it with Laura, to think about options, and I was putting this year as a test. If things did not change as promised... because however much they promised, after the Valencia Test I went to Jerez and the bike was the same, everyone had the new bike and I had the same material.
“The truth is that things changed a lot. At the Sepang Test I almost had tears on my first lap on the new bike. We were very competitive, so, well, I'm not in a hurry to renew with Aprilia, I don't know what will happen next year, there are quite a few options. Hopefully we can start the year and I really want to continue having fun like I did in the preseason and that it is not my last year of racing motorcycles.”
The two-time Grand Prix podium finisher then discusses the unqiue situation that riders and factories find themselves in, in terms of contract negotiations for 2021 and beyond.
“I have many doubts because it is a very difficult year, in which the factories are having a hard time. All the factories in the world, the European ones, but I am sure that it will also be the turn, unfortunately, for the Japanese factories, so we will see how everything progresses... I think we have to wait and see how the sports results progress, if we run this year, and if not, I have many doubts, I don't know what will happen. There are riders who might retire like Cal, Dovi or Valentino, so there will be more places available, or perhaps after this break, all of us who had that in mind might have rethought it. It creates many doubts, that’s the truth.”