'Disappointed and upset' at Suzuki, Aleix Espargaro has confirmed talks with other teams for next season, most notably Aprilia.
Suzuki shocked Espargaro by swiftly signing Andrea Iannone in place of Maverick Vinales on the eve of the recent Italian round - and now look poised to place Moto2 star Alex Rins on Espargaro's GSX-RR.
“We are working on the future,” began Espargaro, speaking on Thursday at his home Catalunya event. “The last race weekend was difficult, where I realised I was not as important in Suzuki as I thought. So in Mugello we started to work to maybe move to another place. I will try to go somewhere where they really love me, they really want me. For me this is the most important thing.”
Asked if he has been told there is no place for him at Suzuki next year, Espargaro (sitting next to Iannone) replied:
“Not yet. It's the feeling I have. It's like this because after six races we are sixth in the championship, not so far from Pedrosa in fourth, despite bad winter testing and they don't really show good interest. This is what I don't really like. I'm really upset in this sense. So we are working on other possibilities.
“I'm really grateful to Suzuki for the chance to be a factory rider for the first time, but I feel upset more than angry because two years ago the bike was not working, very slow. So they worked very hard, but also I think I worked very hard. We developed the bike, last year we did one pole position and now we are sixth in the championship. I think sixth is not that bad.
“Everybody knows my priority is to stay in Suzuki. So it doesn't depend on me. It's something that Suzuki need to decide. Suzuki is a big brand. For sure they need to look for the best thing for them and I will be always grateful because it was a fantastic two years and for sure I will try to fight for the podium, enjoy the rest of the season and in the future we will see. I'm disappointed and upset, but not angry.”
The Spaniard later confirmed yesterday's report that he is in talks with Aprilia
, but added that he also has 'very good' options in World Superbike, rumoured to include being team-mate to world champion Jonathan Rea at Kawasaki.
“[Aprilia] is one of the options we have,” Espargaro said. “We still need to decide. Everything happened really quick. We start to talk in Mugello with different teams. We have different options. Also we have two very, very good options in Superbike.
“The most important thing is that I will go somewhere where they show me that they really want me and I'm important to them. It's important to enjoy your life and be happy. But yeah [Aprilia] is one of the options.”
By Peter McLaren