That the Aprilia was very fast in Barcelona was more than clear from the first minutes of FP1. But that it was capable, in the hands of Aleix Espargarò, of dominating to the point that we were able to admire today in the Sprint Race, no one would have foreseen. Instead, the RS-GP proved to be almost unbeatable, giving Aleix the first victory in the Sprint Race and crowning an almost perfect day with a podium for Vinales and sixth place for Oliveira. Barcelona is truly a hunting ground for the Italian bike and tomorrow the goal is to do it again in the Grand Prix.
Aleix didn't hesitate at the end of the race, in parc fermé he immediately turned his thoughts to Colonnino, who would have enjoyed seeing two Aprilias on the podium today. He’s an emotional rider, who undoubtedly put on a great show, but who also wanted to immediately pay homage to whoever made this show possible.
“It has been a very special feeling when I crossed the chequered flag, even if it’s just a sprint – declared Aleix - But this morning was a bit bitter because I finished second, which is great for the two races. But I felt a little bit like I lost. I gave everything, but Pecco was better. He was amazing, lap record. I was a bit angry, so I started with a big commitment in the sprint race. I was a bit shocked at the beginning on the first two laps, because the level that Pecco proposed was very high. The 1m39s-low was a very high pace, it was not my plan to go at this pace. When he started to do this I said ‘Ok, let’s play, let’s see who can go faster, who destroys the rear tyre first’.”
A little rain also fell at the start of the Sprint. What did you think?
"The start wasn't easy, we all know what can happen in a Sprint Race if it rains, things can get a lot complicated. But luckily Catalonia pardoned me today!".
How did your Aprilia make the difference today?
“I felt like I was better in the mid-corner, I was able to rush a little bit more than him and also in the traction. But to stop the bike, he’s the king. We saw it in Austria he’s very difficult to overtake. But today I had the feeling I was strong and I never in my career won with an advantage, both times I won I overtook on the last part of the race. So, today I said to myself to try, there are not many occasions like this. I tried to pass him, it was difficult.”
What can you do now to try and repeat the win tomorrow?
"I think now is the time to enjoy the victory, this also helps to have energy tomorrow. I think tomorrow will be a different race, we'll have to deal with tire wear on both the front and rear. But the pace is good, here the bike works well. Maybe Pecco won't be very fast at the beginning and it will be easier!".
You have made great steps forward with the start, what is this due to?
"Yes, the start was the result of all the work on the clutch. We did it in Jerez which would have been a crucial aspect because there, from pole position, I lost ten positions at the start. We have made many changes, many innovations every week to improve. And today it worked. My start was good, but Maverick's was even better, he was a missile".
Is Barcelona a bit for Aprilia what the Red Bull Ring is for Ducati?
"I agree. This track really suits the Aprilia, like the Red Bull Ring for Ducati. But the truth is that we often talk about bikes and underestimate the importance of the rider. Look what Pecco did here in qualifying, he made the difference. I know I have a better bike than Pecco here, but he was able to set the record in qualifying. We know where to work, like braking, to get closer to both Ducati and Bagnaia. We have a clear benchmark".