Aleix Espargaro missed out on his first Suzuki podium by just 0.6s to team-mate Maverick Vinales in Sunday's Japanese MotoGP.

Espargaro has only beaten his younger countryman once in races they have both finished this season, but finally regained confidence in the front-end of his GSX-RR and held off the Silverstone winner until lap 20 of 24.

"I'm satisfied. The word is not 'happy' because we miss the podium by just over half-a-second," Espargaro said. "But I tried my best all weekend, worked very hard and I felt we made a good improvement this weekend. Especially with the front of the bike. It was the first race all season where I felt really strong and could ride as aggressive as I want.

"But unfortunately in the last part of the race I missed a little bit of traction, the bike spun a little bit too much. I tried to manage as well as I could, but it was not enough to keep Maverick behind. I tried the maximum and finally for just six tenths I missed the podium."

Vinales is joining the Movistar Yamaha next season, with Espargaro moving to Aprilia.

"There are still three races to go and I'm more determined than ever to get a podium before the end of the season," he said.

Espargaro's next opportunity will come in this weekend's Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island, a race where Vinales is targeting another victory challenge after leading the winter test.

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