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It’s to get in gear for this weekend’s Gran Premio TISSOT de Aragon and previewing Round 13 in the pre-event Press Conference was British GP winner and World Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), with the Frenchman being joined by reigning World Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), his teammate Alex Rins, Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team), Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team), Aleix Espargaro and his new Aprilia Racing Team Gresini teammate Maverick Viñales – a seven-rider strong line-up.
That long-awaited MotoGP™ podium finally came Aprilia’s way in MotoGP™ last time out thanks to the efforts of Aleix Espargaro, as the Spaniard and the Noale factory land at MotorLand Aragon – a happy hunting ground in years gone by. And on the other side of the Aprilia garage this weekend is the returning Viñales. It’s safe to say there’s plenty of attention coming Aprilia’s way, with both riders excited to see what the future brings.
Aleix Espargaro: “Yeah obviously I have a little more confidence after the Silverstone result. Obviously the podium was very important but the most important thing for me was the level we have showed at every GP, in different conditions we’re always close to the top guys so obviously now after the podium I feel a bit more relaxed. Now let’s try to do better, to keep fighting for the podium. This is a circuit that I really like, where the bike has worked quite well in the past. The weather looks better than last season, where we struggled a lot because it was cold so I can’t wait to ride the new bike here.
“I’m very happy Maverick joined our team. I think he arrived in the best moment of Aprilia’s racing story. We’ve been talking for a long time with Maverick about Aprilia, about joining us in the future, but after the thing in Austria, I’m super happy he can be racing again with us. As my teammate I think we have a very strong team also with Sava on the test team role. I think the future is bright for us, obviously to improve from where we are now is not going to be easy, the level is very high, the riders ahead of me are very strong and also their machines, but the challenge is very beautiful so Maverick and I are ready to go for it.”
Viñales: “More than excited, I’m very hungry and motivated to start this story with Aprilia. The six races ahead are just a present to prepare better for next year. Our priority is trying to learn, for sure it is very different, I need to learn a lot and learn quick.
“For sure, this year set up a lot of fire inside of myself. All we want is to push. I’ve been away for a while, but I think we come back in a good way. After the two tests I feel positive to be here and get experience on a weekend and we just need to learn.”
Ahead of the weekend in Aragon, Quartararo admitted that MotorLand is probably his worst track on the calendar. Struggles appeared here last season, but 2021 is a different Quartararo. So how is the standings leader feeling ahead of date with an unfavoured track?
Quartararo: “Well, I mean totally different situation compared to last year. In 2019 I didn’t do a bad race but now I have a totally different feeling on the bike, I’m in a different situation and I feel much better. Of course it’s not my favourite track but at some tracks I didn’t like I was pretty fast this year, so it’s not so important. It’s not my favourite place here but of course I will do the same work as always and try to fight for the best position.”
For the first time this season, Rins tasted a podium thanks to a second place at Silverstone. It’s been a success-starved season for the number 42 but that result is just what he needed, especially coming to a track he earned P1 and P2 at in 2020.
Rins: “Yeah for sure, as what we did in the first part of the season, all the ups and downs, we deserved that podium, myself and the team. We’ve arrived at this track with a lot of confidence. It’s a track I really enjoy, the layout is unbelievable but you know, all the riders are superfast, and the level in MotoGP is super high. Let’s see where we are, we will give our 100%.”
Along with fellow title hopefuls Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) and Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing), Silverstone saw Mir concede a hatful of points to race winner Quartararo. The Spaniard admits he and the team have hit the reset button ahead of Aragon, with Mir keener than ever to fight for victory again.
Mir: “Yeah well, it was a shame in Silverstone, before the Grand Prix I expected much more and honestly during the race had some problems and I couldn't finish in a better position. Luckily the other Championship contenders also made some mistakes and they were also in trouble and yeah, I'm second but I’m not looking a lot at it. I think that we must make a reset, it’s important to start here with a good feeling, let’s see if I can find it again and to be fighting for the victory on Sunday would be amazing also. I will give my best and to see where we are.”
That’s another Thursday done and dusted for the riders, now it’s time for the talking to be done on track. Tune into MotoGP™ FP1 from Aragon at 09:55 local time (GMT+2) on Friday morning to see who comes out of the blocks quickest.
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