Aleix Espargaro believes his return to the top-six had been coming after several rounds of work which gave his Suzuki GSX-RR the turning ability he craves to challenge the other MotoGP 'Factory' machines.

After a prolonged and pronounced mid-season lull, Espargaro and crew chief Tom O'Kane worked on chassis tweaks to hand the Catalan the ability to carry corner speed through Aragon's numerous long, flowing bends.

Suzuki had brought engine updates as well as a new exhaust to the penultimate European round of the year, but Espargaro emphasised the importance of rediscovering his confidence in the front-end, which gradually came back through the race.

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"I'm happy," said a buoyant Espargaro. "Before the race I already knew that we had a good chance. This weekend I enjoy a lot riding the bike. The setting with the hard tyre was fantastic. At the start I immediately felt really good. It was a shame because I felt I had some tenths, something extra more but the Ducati is really unbelievable, how fast it is. It looked like a Formula 1.

"As I said before, to overtake them was hard. In the acceleration they open a big gap so on the brakes I was very far. To overtake Dovi I couldn't really be clean. I touch him a couple of times. Again on the straight he overtook me. I understood that it was not possible to arrive in front of him. Anyway I was happy with the result and the gap to the top guys. This is what we have to do."

"The thing is why did we lose this performance after Barcelona? I don't know why. After the summer break I struggle a lot with the front brake. I'm a rider that rides a lot on the front part of the bike. I need to be aggressive on the brakes and be able to carry a lot of speed into the first part of the corner. I don't know why I lose this. Step by step at the last race I start to feel better. Then here I have a lot of turning power.

"I was able to carry a lot more speed than Dovi in the corners. This was my strongest point. Not to stop the bike like the Honda or Ducati. We need with less power to have a lot of confidence with the front tyre and to be able to throw the bike in really fast. Today was like this. I really push a lot the front tyre. No mistakes.

"In turn eleven I had a lot more traction than Dovi. In turn twelve it was the only corner where I was close enough to overtake him. I tried two times but then in the straight he already overtook me so it was difficult.

"It hasn't been an easy season. Before the start I expected something more, to be more competitive. Just Barcelona, Assen and here I felt we were in a good level. The other races I was not at the level. In the last races I felt that I start to be competitive. Tom is helping me a lot with bike set-up. The frame is just fantastic. We are losing almost 20ks on one of the longest straights on the calendar. To be able to be with a Honda, Yamaha, the Ducati of Dovi, it means it's working very good. We have to keep to keep working like this."