The final lap: Aleix Espargaro's 20 year legacy

After a career full of MotoGP™ milestones, Espargaro now prepares to retire at the end of 2024

After nearly two decades, Aleix Espargaro has announced his retirement. The #41 bows out of the sport with three MotoGP™ victories and 12 career podiums to his name. Espargaro will hang up his leathers to end a remarkable Grand Prix career which will be remembered for a long time, so we took a look back on his career and the legacy that he leaves.

Espargaro’s first key success was winning the FIM CEV in 2004, and the same year he made his Grand Prix debut with an appearance in the 125cc World Championship. In 2005 he competed in his first full GP season, in the 125cc class, before appearances in the 125cc and 250cc classes in 2006. For 2007 and 2008 he remained in the intermediate class, becoming a consistent top ten finisher as well as linking up with Aprilia machinery for the first time.

2009 saw Espargaro get his first taste of the MotoGP™ class as he raced as a replacement rider for Pramac at Indianapolis, Misano, Sepang and Valencia, before a full time move to the premier class for 2010 in the same team. Two P8s were his best finishes, but 2011 would see Espargaro move back to Moto2™. The season saw him take his first GP podium, on home turf at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, and from there the opportunity to move back to MotoGP™ beckoned for 2012. He joined the Aspar team and stayed there in 2013, too, making a name for himself as the frontrunner in the CRT class.

The same was true in 2014 as he moved to Forward Yamaha and the #41 took his maiden premier class podium that season – a stunning second place at a wet MotorLand Aragon. He also took his first pole position at Assen. From there, Espargaro would become a factory rider after impressing over a number of seasons in the CRT.

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First, he joined Team Suzuki Ecstar for 2015 and 2016. He took the factory’s first pole since 2007 at the 2015 Catalan GP, and took consistent top ten and top five results. After two seasons in blue, his next stop was Aprilia Racing in a move that would go on to make some history for both.

Proving a key part of the project from 2017, Espargaro and Aprilia steadily moved forward season by season. By 2021 the duo celebrated their first podium together, at the British Grand Prix, and in 2022 history was made. The Argentinean Grand Prix saw Espargaro come out swinging from the off, and on race day he kept it calm and collected to take a stunning first premier class win for him – and for Aprilia. It was no flash in the pan either, with four podiums in a row from Portugal to Mugello and another at Aragon seeing them stake a claim on the upper echelons of the Championship.

2023 continued the success. A podium at Assen preceded a stunning victory at Silverstone, and there was more to come as the #41 stood on the top step in Barcelona after an awesome showdown against teammate Maverick Viñales. It was a historic 1-2 for the Noale factory, and after Espargaro had also won the Tissot Sprint in a near-perfect weekend.

By the time 2024 concludes, Espargaro can expect to have the third most starts of any rider in history. He’s two behind MotoGP™ Legend Loris Capirossi, who is third on the all-time list, as it stands. He will have taken at least three MotoGP™ wins and podiums in both Moto2™ and MotoGP™, and he will forever have been a vital part of the project that saw Aprilia take their first premier class glory.