One swallow doesn’t make a summer, but with three you can begin to have the reasonable certainty that winter has passed. At Jerez, Aprilia had the confirmation that the RS-GP works well everywhere and that the distance from the best competition is getting smaller every day. Aleix Espargarò was second in the first free practice session and third in the second, but the challenge against the clock is not what galvanized him the most.
"I am satisfied, it seems that our bike goes well everywhere and not just on one track - he said – You always have doubts before going to a new circuit, but it is the first time that I feel so competitive, especially in race pace. I immediately felt good. At this point I can also think about the podium, why not, let's wait and see what happens ”.
Are you already thinking about the race strategy?
"Of course the goal is to improve a little more, to start and break away! (laughs) Seriously, in Jerez we are always close, but I have a good pace because I was able to lap in 1’37"after 10 laps, I was shocked, and this gives me motivation. I believe that the Yamahas, and maybe the Suzukis too, will be closer tomorrow, but it will be difficult to go much faster than that ”.
How optimistic are you?
“I would like to say that I have a bike that is ready to win, but that's not the case. However, every weekend, we are closer to our goal, which is the podium. I believe that on Sunday Morbidelli, Quartararo and Vinales will be the men to beat and I hope to stay with them in the first part of the race, it would be important ”.
Where has the new RS-GP improved the most?
“The bike has become more agile without losing stability, which has always been its strong point. On the other hand, we still suffer a little in changes of direction at high speed, but when you manage to stay with the leaders on three very different tracks, it means that you have found a good base and now I don't want to get confused. "
Did the data collected in the tests carried out by Dovizioso help?
“It just doesn't work like that. I too did some tests here in February, but I had used a completely different set-up. Bradl has practically spent the winter in Jerez and is not in the top 10, I don't think that's a big advantage. "
On race weekends, you start strong immediately, but you often struggle to improve like your opponents. Why?
"I am riding at a good level and I can be fast immediately, the Aprilia has also improved but it is not yet a bike to fight with for the championship. Probably the other riders have more margin, while I am immediately at 105%, but despite this we have shown that we can always stay in the top 5 or 7 ”.
Do you feel in the best moment of your career?
“Not just my career, but my life. I have a competitive bike and a team that believes in me and I've never been so happy at home. The results show it now, but already last year I felt I was riding very well and this season I am continuing to do so. I'm in my best moment ever ”.
Let's talk about qualifying...
“Starting in the first two rows will be fundamental, because in Jerez it is difficult to overtake and even more so for me, due to my riding style. Tomorrow I will have to switch off my brain and do a very fast ride! However Jerez is not the only possibility, I have the feeling that this bike will be strong on all tracks ".
So you will go to bed peacefully tonight…
"My wife came to the circuit with me after a year and a half and I always sleep peacefully with her, there is no better company (laughs)".