Aleix Espargaro believes the 2020 Aprilia MotoGP bike is “closer to the podium” on pace in hot conditions than he was able to show during the Spanish Grand Prix weekend.
Espargaro had a strong pre-season on the overhauled RS-GP, and finished both sessions of Wednesday’s Jerez test inside the top 10.
But Espargaro admits Aprilia got ” completely lost” with the bike from practice due to various technical issues and could only qualify down in 17th.
He says Aprilia reverted to a set-up closer to what he ran at the Sepang and Qatar test and felt “very strong” in the race – though would only last three laps before crashing.
Commenting on his weekend, Espargaro said: “We got lost during the weekend with the setting of the bike and this morning [in warm-up] we found something.
“We completely changed the bike, we went back to a bike very close [to what I rode] in Malaysia and Qatar.
“I felt very, very strong in the warm-up, but in the race I didn’t start good.
“I felt really good and maybe I was too anxious, I tried to overtake, I felt a lot stronger than [Miguel] Oliveira, than [Danilo] Petrucci.
“I rushed a little bit and I made a mistake and I crashed.”
When asked by Autosport if having a second race at Jerez would be important for Aprilia, Espargaro replied: “I wish tomorrow I could ride again at Jerez because I feel that what we showed, it’s not real.
“We got completely lost because of a problem with the engine braking and the clutch.
“But I’m sure that the level and the pace I can put on this track in these hot conditions with the Aprilia is a lot closer to the podium than [just] the top 10 or top 15.”
Struggling to take profit of a fresh tyre in qualifying, Espargaro says his main focus on Friday will be time attacks to try and improve his Saturday performances to be able to deploy the strong race pace he has.
“I think the most important thing on Friday, from the beginning, try to focus on the single fast lap.
“I know I have good pace, I know I am strong in the race physically. But we need to start a lot closer to pole position on the grid.
“It’s very difficult because the acceleration of the Aprilia is not the strong point, so if you start 15th in the first lap, my life is very difficult to overtake them.”