Aleix Espargaro feels that he is now a rider capable of fighting for podiums for the first time in his MotoGP career, if his Aprilia was competitive enough to allow him to do so.
Espargaro, who made his MotoGP debut in 2009, is set to start his 150th premier class race at Jerez next weekend. His sole top-three finish came in the wet at Aragon in 2014 aboard a Forward Yamaha.
While he spent two years as a Suzuki factory rider in 2015-16 and is now into his third season with Aprilia, he has yet to achieve a podium with either team.
Having finished in the top 10 in the first two races of the season, the 29-year-old seemed to have made a step forward with Aprilia in 2019 and while he crashed last time out at Austin, Espargaro insisted that the cause was an electrical problem.
Espargaro believes he would be able to contend for podiums if he had a competitive bike under him.
"I feel that I am riding better than ever in my life, in the brakes, the decisions I take, everything," he said. "I feel I am stronger, I feel that I am ready to fight for the podium for the first time in my career.
"Unfortunately this is not about myself, it is a package that we have to put all together. We are on the way."
After a tough 2018 campaign, Espargaro and Aprilia reverted to the philosophy of the 2017 bike for this year's RS-GP, which resulted in important steps forward.
He pointed out acceleration issues, caused by lack of rear grip and excessive tyre, as the last big weakness of Aprilia, and said that the bike eats up too much of its tyres in the early stages of races.
"We are still strong in the second part of the race but the problem is that now for some reason with this engine we are using more the tyre at the beginning of the race to follow them," he said.
"The lack of grip, it makes that if I want to follow them I slide so when you slide the consumption is higher.
"In the past especially in 2017 the pure grip initially was better. I didn't destroy the tyre. Now the problem is that if I want to fight for the top position I have to destroy the rear tyre, if not it is impossible to follow them."
Additional reporting by Charles Bradley
Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
Photo by: Gold and Goose / LAT Images
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