Aleix Espargaro has notched up another landmark for the evolving CRT machines after qualifying a tremendous fifth on the grid for the German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring.
Espargaro had been tipped for a giant-killing performance after showing impressive pace during free practice, but the Aspar-ART rider would surprise even himself with his incredible run to the second row, not least being a meagre half-second from outright pole position.
Also a mere two hundredths from usurping fourth place rider Stefan Bradl, though Espargaro admits the lack of a long straight at the Sachsenring is levelling the playing field between the prototypes and the CRT machines, the Spaniard was thrilled to have out-performed each Ducati, a Gresini Honda and a Tech 3 Yamaha.
“Qualifying fifth is amazing but what is even better is how close I was to pole! In the morning I was second fastest and just 0.5s off P1, so we knew we were working well. This track helps us as the differences in engine power are levelled out a bit and we are closer to the prototypes.
“I'm excited about the race and I think I can get a good result. If it's cold we could have an advantage as our rear tyre could perform better than what the prototypes have. So I'm hoping it's chilly and we can be even more competitive. Either way I'll give it everything I've got and see if I can match my grid position in the race. Our set-up is almost perfect, thanks to the good work of the team.”
Espargaro's performance is the latest in a line of super efforts from youngster as he continues to bridge the gap between the CRT and the prototype bikes. He is currently tenth in the standings with a best finish of seventh and is well placed to challenge the best-ever CRT race result of fifth, achieved by Michele Pirro at Valencia last season.