Underdogs to top dogs: Aprilia and Aleix are title threats

A dream start to 2022 rolls on for the Noale factory as they sit four points behind the World Championship lead and lead the Teams' title

Aleix Espargaro is in the form of his life right now. Third place at Sunday's French Grand Prix was his third podium in succession and his fourth of the season, closing the gap to Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) at the top of the World Championship to only four points in the process. Furthermore, the Aprilia Racing squad now leads the Teams' Championship - a sentence you wouldn't have dared dream of saying a little more than twelve months ago.

For context, in Espargaro's time at the Noale factory, they have never scored more than fifty points in the Team's Championship after seven rounds. Now, they sit atop of the standings with a remarkable 131 points; that's 83 points more than their previous best. For the past four seasons, the Constructors' table has seen Aprilia sat at the bottom after seven rounds. Now, they sit third and just two points adrift of Yamaha in second.

As every round ticks by, the Spaniard's title credentials grow stronger and stronger. The RS-GP has proven it's competitive at every style of circuit, in every conditions, in every session pretty much. Espargaro is the only man to stand on a MotoGP™ podium four times this year and, as a result, should be taken very seriously as a contender for the 2022 MotoGP™ crown.

But, even he's at a loss to explain what's going on: "I don't know really what to say. It's crazy what's happening. I have no explanation. I'm extremely happy with the level that I’ve reached, how I'm riding, the stability, how I feel with this team, with this group of people. They have given me the bike that I’ve dreamed about, the bike that I asked for. All of the changes that I wanted in pre-season last year, I have this year. I just hope to keep the momentum going and keep enjoying it.

"I'm completely sure that we can fight for this title this year but I'm not really thinking about it. I'm just trying to enjoy the moment, trying to finish on the podium at every single race up to Valencia, trying to win more races and trying to have fun after a difficult career. Now we are just four points behind Fabio, 100 points after seven races, leading the teams’ championship. It’s insane.

"The market is crazy, the championship is crazy, the level of every rider is unbelievable. It looks like every rider is fast and it's true. I read an interview last week with Gigi Dall’Igna and it was very interesting, saying that everybody is fast in this championship but to know the bike at the limit, knowing every single detail of the bike, is what makes the difference."

Despite his incredible success at the start of the season, a new deal with Aprilia is rumoured to be stalling. The Noale factory have not yet managed to reach the demands of the 32-year-old, with him admitting in Austin that Aprilia's initial offer had left him "sad". However, as the podium visits continue to rack up, surely Espargaro is forcing Aprilia's hand: "I don't know what's happening there. I don't know what to say, honestly. It's not affecting me, I'm very happy and I'm enjoying the moment.

"It will really help to know as soon as possible what my future is because it will give me some tranquility. But there is nothing more that I can do. I can win every race, yeah, but this is very difficult. I’ve finished nearly every race on the podium, so that's all I can do."

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