Aleix Espargarò finished the first day of MotoGP testing at Portimao in 12th position, last of the four Aprilia riders. But this didn't take away a big smile from his face at the end of Day 1 and neither did the crash in the morning, in which he had a big impact with the asphalt but from which he emerged unharmed. It is rather another problem that is worrying Aleix, namely the symptoms linked to a potential compartment syndrome which emerged in the afternoon forcing the Spaniard to end the test ahead of time.
It’s not a minor problem either, perhaps partly linked to the aerodynamic load that modern MotoGP bikes are able to generate and perhaps in particular his Aprilia on which various aerodynamic solutions have sprung up, all aimed at increasing the downforce. It is paradoxical to underline that Aleix himself already underwent the operations necessary to resolve the compartment syndrome two years ago.
“I had a bad impact with my foot and hip, but that's not the problem - commented Aleix - I finished earlier today because I couldn’t ride my bike, because of arm pump on my right arm. I’m a bit worried, because it’s very strange. I had some problems like the other riders in Malaysia because it was the first test of the season – but today was incredible. Hopefully tomorrow will be better, and I will go to the doctor to check on Monday.”
Haven't you already had compartment syndrome surgery?
"I had compartment syndrome surgery two years ago, maybe the closure on the muscles formed again, I don't know. I'll do some tests tomorrow to understand how things are."
How is the work progressing seeing as you are also in a position to make use of the data of Oliveira and Fernandez who are fast?
“In Malaysia I already used the data of Oliveira and Fernandez, but here I haven't done it yet. The bikes are a little different, especially in terms of aerodynamics. We're using two completely different setups, so cornering speed and so many other things are different. But it's always good to have them with us, for tyres and other things. For example, today Miguel was the first to mount the hard front and it worked, so this is important for me because it removes any doubts since the bikes are similar".
Today we saw several new wings appear on your Aprilia, can you feel them on the bike?
“It makes a big difference. We tried a lot of new items – the fork one, the rear one, some things on the wheel. The engineers had a lot of ideas in this way, and tomorrow I’d like to try them in a different configuration. There are lots of things you can try. I’m not sure if the arm pump is also due to that, because the downforce was huge. With the full aero configuration, the speed on the fast corners was super high. It can make the difference, so now it’s time to study and analyse. There are configurations that you can use for sprint races or maybe just for qualifying. There are some parts you can remove for some circuits and add for another. It’s time to try and understand things.”
Has the new engine arrived?
“I don't know who told you we had a new engine here. I had a slightly better engine spec here than the previous one, but basically it's the same. Maybe you know more than me and at the first GP I will have a new engine! Romano told us that in Portimao we will have a slightly different engine than the one in Malaysia, but not a completely new engine".
Do you feel ready for this world championship?
“I am ready, more than ready. We are ready to race, and I feel better here than in Malaysia, especially on the medium tyre. We were strong there for one single lap, but we were not at the level of the Ducati. We didn’t have race pace, but here I have the feeling we can match them, which is very interesting. Today I didn’t have a lot of time to try the soft tyre and everyone dropped a lot of time with it, so I’m sure we can be top three with that too. It means that we are good in qualifying mode and in race mode.”