Nineteenth at the start, twelfth on the tenth lap, tenth under the chequered flag: that about sums up Aleix Espargaró's race at the Circuit of the Americas, protagonist of an extraordinary comeback, riding his Aprilia RS-GP into the battle for eighth place. It was a result that he missed by just 3 tenths of a second, when he was unable to demand any more of his tyres in the race finale, already put to a hard test.
The foundation for a good performance today was laid in the warmup session which ended with Aleix in fifth place - demonstration of the excellent analysis conducted after the complicated sessions on Friday and Saturday.
His teammate, Scott Redding, struggled to find the right feeling with the hard tyres chosen for the race, having to settle for a seventeenth place finish in the end. The tests scheduled for tomorrow on this track, where both the Aprilia riders will participate, will be useful to give Scott a chance to increase his familiarity with the RS-GP and better prepare for the arrival of the European races.
“We knew that this track would be one of the toughest for the RS-GP, plus yesterday we had difficulty with the setup, so my race started as an uphill battle. In spite of this, I was very focused and aggressive at the start. Already in the early laps I had overtaken a lot of other riders, beginning to make up positions. Today my bike truly worked well. The tenth place finish is not an exceptional result, but it was not simple starting from that far back. The only pity was not being able to get past the two riders ahead of me, but in the final laps, the tyre really deteriorated and I had very little traction. It was a solid race that makes us look toward the first European race with great confidence. Our level is high and we can be a surprise on more than one occasion.”
“Our weekend has started off well, but then I was unable to progress as much as I would have liked to. I rode the race with the hardest tyre both on the front and on the back and the situation improved in terms of the front end, but I was lacking grip at the rear. To be honest, I expected more, but I can't be disappointed: Aleix did an excellent job today and that demonstrates that the bike has good potential, I just need to keep improving and learning.”
ROMANO ALBESIANO - APRILIA RACING MANAGER
“We are very happy because today we showed our true potential, among other things on a track that is traditionally tough for us, with Aleix riding a stupendous comeback race. After the complicated qualifiers yesterday, we were the only ones who went with the hardest compound tyre on the front and the decision paid off, letting Aleix push hard for the entire distance, thereby recovering several positions. We have an outstanding bike and an outstanding team. Today's performance confirms that. Scott is still at a stage where he needs to get to know the bike better in order to be able to take full advantage of it. Tomorrow we'll be back on the track for a day of testing and we'll work hard to dial it in to his comfort, trying various changes in terms of setup.”
FAUSTO GRESINI - TEAM MANAGER
"Already after doing a good warmup session, we had the feeling that we could ride a great race and with Aleix we succeeded in doing just that. The tenth place finish after starting nineteenth and battling in the finale for eighth is definitely positive. Also taking into consideration the difficulties we have always encountered on this track, I must give everyone a round of applause. There has been clear progress. It was not an easy weekend, but it is a good starting point for us in anticipation of the races in Europe."