15 October 2017
Aleix Espargaró rode his Aprilia RS-GP to a seventh place finish in the GP of Japan held in Motegi in the persistent rain. This is another placement that, after the Aragón race, confirms the Aprilia rider as a solid presence in the MotoGP top ten.
After two days of practice and qualifying as a protagonist, consistently in the top five, Aleix started well from the second row, but a few problems with aquaplaning from the start of the race made him lose contact with the front runners. As the laps went by, Aleix found his rhythm and in the final phases he defended his position well, overtaking Zarco who had started from pole position.
It was also a good race for Sam Lowes who was able to find his pace in the extreme conditions, overtaking several rivals and moving up from 24th place on the first lap to finish the race 13th.
“Seventh place is a good result, but our potential was better than that. To be honest, I am disappointed. After the speed we demonstrated all weekend, our expectations were different. Unfortunately, I never found my rhythm in the race. I had big problems with aquaplaning that cost me a lot of ground. I don’t really understand it. I even tried to change the engine map, but the situation did not improve much. Toward the end of the race, when it stopped raining, I was able to do a few good laps, getting close to the Suzukis, but then it started raining again and I had to settle. In these final races I want to try to get into the top ten in the rider standings.”
“In the early laps I struggled to get the tyres and brakes up to temperature because of all the water. Once I found my pace, I was able to ride a good race. I overtook a lot of riders and had a fun ride. With three weekends in a row, it is important to get off on the right foot. I managed to do that, also gaining great experience in such difficult conditions. I had gotten very close to Pol in eleventh place. Maybe I wouldn’t have been able to overtake him because there were only a few corners left, but the bike had a problem and we will have to look into what caused it. I lost a position, but I am satisfied with how I rode throughout the weekend anyway. I finished in the points and, above all, I battled down to the last lap.”
ROMANO ALBESIANO – APRILIA RACING MANAGER
“Aleix’s result is another placement that confirms us stably in the MotoGP top ten. It was a very positive weekend in which we demonstrated great competitiveness both in true wet conditions and in mixed dry and damp conditions which had really penalised us in the past, so this is also a very important sign of improvement. In practice we did much better than we did in the race and that indicates that we need to improve our race management so that on Sunday we can confirm all the good we are able to do in practice and now in qualifying as well. It was also a nice race for Sam who does very well in these conditions and he managed to finish in the points.”
FAUSTO GRESINI – TEAM MANAGER
“Aleix did a very good job. We can be satisfied and today Sam also demonstrated his qualities in the wet. Of course, we were in the top spots all weekend, but a finish like this should be considered positive because it is still a top ten and because our goal here was to confirm the nice result from Aragón, so we are in line with this target. It is true that in the race we did not repeat our extraordinary performance in practice and qualifying, but we had some spinning that we had not had even in warm up. In any case, we battled once again today with fierce rivals, leaving several behind us.”