“No-one wanted to race with us...” - Espargaro proud of Aprilia turnaround

Having almost surpassed his 2020 MotoGP points total in four races of 2021, Aleix Espargaro thinks Aprilia's elusive podium is just around the corner

Aleix Espargaro - Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 2021

Aleix Espargaro has questioned whether the multiple riders that turned down the opportunity to compete with the team in MotoGP this season are regretting their decisions following the manufacturer’s positive start to its 2021 campaign.

The Spaniard, now the second most experienced rider on the MotoGP grid behind only Valentino Rossi,  is entering into the fifth season of an occasionally fraught tenure with the Italian manufacturer.

In that time Aprilia has achieved a best finish of only sixth position on multiple occasions, though this includes twice in 2021 alone. In fact, Espargaro is already only seven points shy of his entire 2020 points’ total.

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With a first Aprilia podium seemingly closer than ever, despite a winter in which teams weren\t allowed to make sweeping changes to its packages, Espargaro is ‘proud’ with the team’s notable step forward in the tragic wake of late team manager Fausto Gresini' death from COVID in January.

"I'm very happy about the level we are showing this year, we are very close to the winner in every race, at three completely different circuit layouts," Espargaro said.

"I don’t want to sound arrogant but I feel a big part of this is because of my [work] and the big effort that I and the people around me, the engineers, put into the project.

"It's not for example like Suzuki that has two riders are developing the bike together for more than 3-4 seasons… I have had many team-mates but the one that always worked and put the maximum effort into this project has been myself, so I'm very proud of it.”

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Aprilia's step forward will give bosses some satisfaction after suffering with the ignominy of having its second seat turned down by a catalogue of riders, including Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow, while Moto2 riders Marco Bezzecchi, Fabio Di Giannantonio and Joe Roberts also saying no.

"Just one year ago nobody wanted to join us, we were not seen as a serious project, not a good bike. Now it looks like Aprilia is the revolution bike and young talented riders want to join our team and a very big talent like Dovizioso is testing for us. So I'm very very proud of this and very happy."

Earlier this week Dovizioso enjoyed his second test as on the RS-GP as speculation continues that he could be in line to enter as a wildcard in a forthcoming race.

For now though there Dovizioso remains on the prospect of this or a deal to potentially replace Espargaro's team-mate Lorenzo Savadori.