Aleix Espargaró is back in the points, finishing tenth in the Assen GP. This is certainly a positive result that ends Aleix’s streak of zero point finishes, but the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Spaniard’s race should have ended with a much different result.
Just after the mid-race point, the Espargaró-Aprilia package demonstrated its full potential. After a cautious start without forcing his pace too much, Aleix moved up from fifteenth to seventh, joining Crutchlow’s group. An even more significant statistic is that during that part of the race (16th and 17th laps) he had lapped with the second best time and his gap behind the leader was less than seven seconds. In short, all the conditions were right for an excellent race finale, on the hunt for a top-five finish. Instead, raindrops began to fall and the altered grip conditions (Aleix had the hard tyre on the rear) ruined his pace completely. Aleix dropped back position by position to the end, in any case managing to defend a top-ten finish.
Notwithstanding, the Aprilia RS-GP confirmed once again in this race that a top-five finish is definitely within reach of a project which has made clear progress in terms of performance over recent months.
“I cannot be entirely satisfied because our goal is still to be closer to the leaders. The race had started well. I managed the first part, successfully overtaking a lot of riders and maintaining a good pace. A few laps before the rain I had begun to visibly recover ground. The RS-GP was really working well and I was closing the gap quickly. Unfortunately, I did not have a good feeling on the damp track and I was unable to push. Today we demonstrated once again that we can be very competitive, but the weather got in the way.”
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