Espargaro: We are not reacting

Aleix Espargaro voices his frustration at the lack of development with Aprilia’s ’19 RS-GP; responds to team-mate Andrea Iannone’s recent comments: “I didn’t understand why he said that.”
Espargaro: We are not reacting

Aleix Espargaro has voiced his frustration at the lack of development on Aprilia’s 2019 RS-GP in recent rounds ahead of the factory’s home race, and reiterated his belief that he is repeatedly taking his current package to its absolute limits.

In recent weeks Espargaro has been unable to get anywhere near MotoGP’s top six. While showing a strain of consistency that has been lacking in his previous years with Aprilia, a best finish of ninth falls below expectations set at the beginning of 2019.

The Catalan used his younger brother’s sensational result for KTM at Le Mans as evidence of the fruits of a factory’s sustained push to evolve its machine through the season. By contrast Espargaro was left to lament the fact “Aprilia is not giving me anything new.”

The Noale factory has brought a new fairing for the Italian Grand Prix as Espargaro seeks minor gains for the acceleration issues of which he has complained for the past two seasons.

But his comments suggested this was not enough. On top of that, Espargaro was irritated by team-mate Andrea Iannone’s recent comments that questioned his development capabilities. “The problems we are both having are the same; the only difference is I am a lot more fast,” he said.

“It’s difficult to know,” he said regarding his current frustrations at a lack of development. “I try to be positive. But as soon as possible… Everyone is improving a lot.

“My brother had a test at Jerez. Everybody tested on Monday and then they tested again new things on Wednesday. They tested also at Le Mans and we saw the super race my brother did at Le Mans.

“We are not reacting. We have nothing new. This bike is the ’17.2 bike. We are back and far from our rivals. I said many times this season I don’t know how to go faster. I have no idea, I cannot. As soon as they can bring new things it will be more than welcome.”

Asked whether he had expected more from the arrival of new company CEO Massimo Rivola, Espargaro offered, “What I expected more was the timing. I expected [it to be] more quick.

“I have to say that I’m really happy with the arrival of Massimo. It was something we were missing. He’s doing a really great job. But he’s not a magician.

“Every time I ask him and I push him the answer is the same: ‘I need more time. It’s difficult for you to still be positive because it’s been three years like this, but for me it’s five months. It’s more time.’ I try to be more positive and give more time to him.”

Regarding Iannone’s comments, which indicated Espargaro’s desire to achieve instant results had clouded his development direction in recent years, the Catalan was keen to point out he has scored 22 points in the five races to date. Iannone has only managed six.

“I read something that I was not working in the right direction to improve the bike, or… You know, I didn’t really understand because we really have normal relations. I didn’t understand why he said that,” Espargaro said.

“He said to me at lunchtime today, ‘It’s bullshit, I never said that, I’m really sorry, somebody invented it.’ I said, ‘OK, I don’t really care, no problem.’ I give my best. I always give the best info to the engineers and this is the maximum I can do.

“The problems we are both having are the same; we are struggling to stop the bike in the first part and a lot of problems in the acceleration phase. There is no grip at all. The only difference is I am a lot more fast.

“I mean, I’m relaxed. I feel good with myself and the way I’m riding. But Aprilia is not giving me anything new … it’s not my fault. It’s not because I’m not asking for something new in these last two years.

“I said many, many times my problems and they are similar problems to the ones he’s having. I do my job. I try to be as maximum competitive as possible on Sunday and I don’t really care what he says. The points and the championship is there.”

On the new aerodynamic fairing he will have available this weekend, Espargaro added, “This is not Ducati! We have for tomorrow a different front fairing with different wings. We had these wings two years so it was time to change it. It looks like these wings we use tomorrow have a little bit more load so it’s really welcome at a circuit like this.

“Looks like it won’t lose any top speed, as Bradley [Smith – Aprilia test rider] tried them here three weeks ago. I’m not really worried about top speed because the Aprilia top speed is not that bad. But maybe we’ll need them for acceleration so maybe the wings will help.”

Opening up on the issues that have afflicted him recently, the 29-year old said, “It’s difficult to be fully precise and understand the problem. But for me it’s between the electronics and the engine character. Our bike is very fast in sixth gear but for me we don’t have enough torque in the low RPM. It’s too aggressive.

“It’s quite complicated the way the engine brake stops working and then you approach [touching] the throttle. This slip can cause the problem when the bike slides on the first touch of the throttle. It’s super complicated.

“From Qatar I’ve had the same problem. I did three high-sides this year, and a big high-side last year, where I destroyed myself in Germany. I can’t remember a high-side on the throttle in the last five years – I did three in six months.

“It’s very difficult for me to be more fast. When we arrive at tracks where the grip is low and the temperature is low, what confidence do I have to be aggressive? It’s very difficult.”