Aleix Espargaro takes (another) swipe at his own Aprilia MotoGP team

Aleix Espargaro criticises his own Aprilia Racing team for the lack of in-season updates for its under-performing MotoGP machine

Aleix Espargaro - Aprilia Racing

Aleix Espargaro has once again shamed Aprilia Racing for the lack of forthcoming updates to its MotoGP machine, saying he is ‘upset’ by the team’s failure to improve over the past three seasons.

Aleix – together with his brother Pol – were at one time considered two of the leading protagonists to challenge for so-called ‘alien’ status during the early years of their respective MotoGP careers, but have more recently deviated to Aprilia and KTM’s young projects respectively.

However, while KTM have taken notable strides during its time in MotoGP, Aprilia’s form has stagnated at best, with the older Espargaro becoming increasingly – and publicly - frustrated at the lack of strides being made.

Having already urged Aprilia’s parent company Piaggio to take MotoGP more seriously by growing its budget to compete with the likes of Honda, Yamaha and Ducati, Espargaro was then left discouraged at the recent Misano test when the team – unlike its other factory rivals - brought no significant updates to trial.

“We used the two days to prepare for the race, we had nothing new to try at all,” he told reporters ahead of this weekend’s San Marino MotoGP at Misano, including our sister publication

“I just arrived here [for the test] and everybody [else] was trying many things. My brother had five bikes in the [KTM] garage and also Yamaha and Ducati had a lot to new things to try. We had nothing to try so we used the two-day test to try different geometry settings.”

Passion to perform for Aprilia ‘at the limit’

Already committed to 2020 MotoGP with Aprilia for what will be his fourth season with the Gresini Racing-run team, though Espargaro says he would like nothing more than to achieve success here, he admits he needs to see gains soon or he’ll exit. 

“I really would like to be competitive with Aprilia, not with another brand. I know perfectly - and I don’t want this to sound stupid - but I feel that with a competitive bike I can be in the front, 100%.

“I would really like to shine with Aprilia, I really, really would like this. But the races pass, the years pass and there's no reaction for the moment.

“Looks like this year everything is changing a little bit and for next season… new engineers are coming, the team is changing quite a lot with the arrival of Massimo [Rivola, CEO], so I hope that next season everything will change.

“But obviously my passion is getting in the limit, because it will be my fourth season with Aprilia. So we will see.”

Where has it gone wrong for Aprilia in MotoGP?

For a team that effectively abandoned its successful World Superbike Championship project – where it won three titles with the RSV4 – in favour of focusing on MotoGP, Aprilia Racing’s lack of progress over the past five MotoGP seasons has been alarming for being so underwhelming.

Aprilia joined Suzuki in returning to MotoGP in 2015, but their fortunes since then couldn’t have deviated further from one another. Whilst Suzuki admittedly took time developing its GSX-RR to ensure it hit the ground running – compared with Aprilia who forwent a planned year of development to go racing – the fact one is now challenging for wins and the other struggling to stay off the back row is hard to ignore.

Espargaro – who spent two years at Suzuki before joining Aprilia – certainly doesn’t need that pointing out to him, even before you consider his brother’s newer and far less experienced KTM project is now routinely quicker too.

Indeed, the irking issue for Espargaro is the fact Aprilia isn’t progressing at all, not necessarily through poor design but by simply not doing anything to improve what it already has. Indeed, it’s this ponderous approach to updates for what is already a slow bike that clearly baffles the Spaniard. 

“[Focusing on 2020 bike] Sometimes this can be a mistake because I'm not sure that we have to change 100% of the bike. We have to update the 2019 bike. 

“So, if you want to update the 2019 bike you can start to receive some parts to see how the bike is with the new engine, fairing, winglets or swingarm. I think that's more the normal way. I'm not saying best way or bad way, but normal way. But for the moment, nothing.”

Aprilia insists ‘something different’ is coming in 2020

Currently sixth and last in the MotoGP manufacturers’ standings – 23 points shy of KTM – Aprilia has made noises about major changes coming in 2020, spurred on by a reshuffle of its management and technical roles.

“We are planning something really different from what we have now,” team manager Romano Albesiano was quoted as saying earlier in the year. “We have found the limit to our solution in many areas and we have decided this time to make a really big step for next season.”