The change from CRT to Open class regulations may not have provided the radical MotoGP shake-up some had predicted, but the revised regulations have certainly paid off for Aleix Espargaro.

The top rider during both CRT seasons, Espargaro moved from Aspar to Forward Racing for the new Open class, which no longer requires non-Factory machines to be subject to a claiming rule to access tyre, fuel, engine and testing concessions.

Espargaro arrives at Assen with a best race finish of fourth and holding seventh in the world championship. The Spaniard has double the points of next best Open rider Nicky Hayden.

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"For sure riding in the Open class is more fun than the CRT," said Aleix whose Forward Yamaha uses a leased M1 engine and chassis, fitted with the standard Open class ECU.

"The Open bike is much closer to the Factory bikes. I'm enjoying it a lot and in a lot of sessions we are close to the top riders, which is fantastic for me. In a few races we've finished really not far away from the winner so I'm much happier than last year for sure."

Espargaro is also just four points behind younger brother Pol, riding a Tech 3 Yamaha.

"Pol is one of my big rivals because I said at the beginning of the season my goal was to finish in the top six and he is sixth at the moment, four points in front of me," said Aleix. "So he is my first rival and I will try to beat him like last week in Barcelona. But he is improving a lot, really fast. For his first season he is quite impressive so it's not going to be easy."

While the softer Open class tyre allocation helps in practice and qualifying, Espargaro has a tougher task keeping pace in the race.

"We work a lot with harder tyres and try to set-up the electronics because when the rear tyre grip drops it is really difficult to keep the pace," he explained. "The bike slides a lot and if we put a lot more traction control we have no power. It's difficult to find the balance but in the test after Barcelona we improved. We are working the right way and I'm really looking forward to this track. I think we can be close to the podium."

Turning to this weekend, he added: "I love Assen. I enjoy a lot every time coming here. The only problem is the weather. Everybody says the Yamaha is good here so I'm looking forward to trying my bike here."

While Espargaro is still using the Yamaha frame, team-mate Colin Edwards recently switched to the team's own FTR design.

Aleix went on to finish second quickest, behind Pol, in Thursday morning's opening practice at Assen.