By Stephen J. Carter
Since the opening 2013 MotoGP round in Qatar, Aleix Espargaro has made his intentions clear to retain the top privateer title.
Aided by the advent of the softer rear tyre option for the CRTs this year, the Spaniard has consistently shown his class-leading form by reducing the gap to the lead riders.
A general comparison between the closing four rounds of the *2012 season and the five rounds so far this season (pictured) shows Espargaro closing the gap to P1 from an average of 62.75s (2012) to 53.40s (2013).
Last time at Mugello, Espargaro crossed the line in eighth place, 39.802s behind Jorge Lorenzo
- the smallest time gap yet for a CRT rider to the race winner.
While Aspar Aprilia team-mate Randy de Puniet
already has a test contract in place with Suzuki, Espargaro's form means that he is also being linked with the factory's planned 2014 MotoGP return.
“It is true that has been some contact with Suzuki, but they have not decided yet if they will return to the championship or not,” Espargaro told MotoGP.com
. “It is a very exciting project, it is a factory and it would be an official MotoGP bike.”
*Rounds 14-17, round 18 (Valencia) excluded due to changeable track conditions.