MotoGP Mugello: Espargaro ‘happy, now is real!’| Christina Bulpett | MotoGP
Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro continued his front running form with the fastest MotoGP time around Mugello on Friday.
Sitting second in the current championship standings, Espargaro bettered that in free practice by taking the top spot from a deluge of Ducatis. His 1’45.891 FP2 lap fended off Pecco Bagnaia by just 0.049s.
“I’m very happy,” Espargaro confirmed from the Italian paddock. “Mugello has been always a Ducati track but this year before we arrive everybody starts to say ‘maybe the Aprilia’, ‘Ducati is not the only Italian competitive bike right now’. So I’m happy.
“It’s just day one, is Friday, but it’s good to start on a good way. Normally if you start in a good way, is quite easy during the weekend to maintain the level so I will try my best tomorrow.
“It was very, very hot, the track was not easy,” he continued on the increasing Italian summer temperatures. “But this is MotoGP, the lap times has been very fast from the beginning. Especially with the race tyre I felt good and with the soft I didn’t expect to go that fast, to go under ’46 today think has been very fast. So I’m happy.”
While Mugello is not as difficult to overtake as the Spaniard has found at recent races, qualifying well at Ducati’s home track is still increasingly important. Especially with six Bologna bullets already featuring strongly in the top eight.
“It is. It is,” he agreed. “Mugello you can overtake a bit more than in Le Mans but anyway is not going to be easy. Especially because the bike that you have to overtake, the Ducatis. If the Yamaha were in front will be a little bit easier because they are lack of top speed, but the Ducatis are very strong on the straight so it’s not going to be easy to overtake. But also my bike is not bad. It’s going to be important the qualifying, let’s see if we can have a good one.”
Aprilia’s day had already got off to a strong start before the opening laps had even been spun, with the Noale factory confirming the presence of two additional RS-GP’s on the premier class gird for the next two seasons, at least.
“Extremely happy,” Espargaro said of the news RNF were switching to Aprilia for 2023 and 2024. “Two years ago will be crazy to see a team switching from Yamaha to Aprilia but now is real!
“Fully deserve it. I’m extremely happy for everybody in Aprilia, Noale, everybody here in the team because they did a good job to grow up the level of the RS-GP. Now is a very competitive bike so I’m very happy and just saying ‘Welcome’ to Razlan [Razali]. He’s also a good friend, he loves cycling like me so I’m very happy.”