Aleix Espargaro aims jibe at riders who snubbed Aprilia after MotoGP win

Aleix Espargaro calls out the riders who previously turned down the chance to race with Aprilia in MotoGP following his landmark win in Argentina

Aleix Espargaro - Aprilia Racing

Aleix Espargaro has aimed a cheeky dig towards young riders who previously turned down the chance to compete in MotoGP with Aprilia, following his landmark victory in the Argentina MotoGP.

The veteran Spaniard - competing in his 284th GP race and 200th MotoGP event - scored an emotional maiden victory for both himself and Aprilia Racing at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit over the weekend.

Marking the first win by Aprilia - who returned to the premier class in 2015 - in the four-stroke era, it means all five manufacturers have achieved wins in the last 12 months, while the Suzuki as the sixth were winners and champions in 2020.

Indeed, Aprilia’s arduous journey to the top of the podium has not been without problems, with victory over the weekend proving only its second rostrum finish in seven years too.

In that time several riders have come and gone with less than forgiving words to say about the RS-GP - such as Scott Redding and Sam Lowes - but Espargaro says they were among the people to text a congratulations on Sunday.

Another to express his delight was Andrea Iannone, who raced as Espargaro’s team-mate in 2019 prior to his suspension for a drugs ban that - after a failed appeal - will last until mid-2023.

At the time, Iannone’s unexpected exit opened up a berth within the Aprilia fold that led to a number of riders being approached for 2021, including Andrea Dovizioso, who eventually turned down the seat in favour of a move to the RNF Yamaha team he is now struggling in.

Others who were also offered included Moto2 riders Joe Roberts, Marco Bezzecchi and Fabio di Giannantonio. Indeed, Espargaro reckons young riders would do well to consider the potential of a project before turning down deals in favour of waiting for a different offer.

“I would try to convince some young riders to come who are now in Moto2, but they would say ‘I prefer to wait for another bike’. So this makes me more hungry and gives me extra motivation,” added the first-time winner.

“I say ‘okay, you will remember this day in your life when you say no to Aprilia’. Now I’m happy and yesterday (Saturday) I was very happy because Sam Lowes, Scott Redding, Iannone, all the riders I raced with text me and were very, very happy for me and for Aprilia because they know how hard it’s been, how hard the bike was in the past. 

“The level we are showing now I think is really good. Still a lot of work to do, but I think the young riders in Moto2, Moto3 are starting to see the project from Aprilia as a little bit more serious, like an option for the future. 

“This is also great for the sport, for the championship. Now there are a lot of strong manufacturers that you can win with any bike. 

“This year KTM wins, Ducati wins and Aprilia wins. Also Honda is very strong, Suzuki is strong and Yamaha won last year. It’s unbelievable the level of the category.”