Aleix Espargaro is targeting what would be a first and last Suzuki MotoGP podium in this weekend's Valencia finale, before making his Aprilia debut in the post-race test.

The Spaniard, who finished fourth at Motegi, said: "We close two fantastic years this weekend. I'm obviously not happy regarding the results, but happy overall with this big family and looking forward to trying to achieve the best result of the two seasons.

"The last couple of races we've been around the podium - very, very close - so hopefully we can close with a good feeling in Valencia."

After Andrea Dovizioso became the ninth different winner of the season at Sepang, Espargaro's name topped the list for a possible tenth victor at Valencia.

"I wish! I will try my best obviously," Espargaro said. "To win is very, very difficult. But sincerely in the last three dry races we were quite close. Maybe closer than ever. In Japan just [four] seconds from Marc, in Australia from Cal and in Malaysia I also felt really good in the dry. I think the Suzuki suits this track very well, so hopefully we will fight at least."

So you'd prefer it to be dry?

"For sure! If it's wet I will stay in the motorhome!" he smiled. "I don't want to finish the season in the wet. I know we have to improve a lot the bike [in the wet] but we have no more time. So I hope that we can race in dry, the Suzuki in the dry is fantastic and sincerely I'd really like to finish the season with the best result of these two years. I don't think that would be in the wet."

The Spaniard admitted he has been encouraged by Aprilia's improving form, which includes a pair of seventh places for Alvaro Bautista in the last three races.

"Sincerely really happy and impressed," Espargaro said. "Because when I signed with Aprilia in the summer the bike was quite far and in the last five races I have to say Alvaro did an awesome job. He has been very competitive. Very close to the Tech 3 Yamahas and he has put the bike straight into Qualifying 2.

"So the bike is good and also in the last race in Malaysia they had a new engine and the bike looks really fast. So I can't wait to try the bike because it looks like it's going to be really nice."

Espargaro, who will ride alongside rookie Sam Lowes next season, is also confident he can make use of the experience gained in developing the GSX-RR - now a race winning machine in the hands of Maverick Vinales.

"We did a good job with the CRT Aprilia, then with the Forward Yamaha. Being a factory rider makes it easier to improve the bike, and the [Suzuki] we tried two years ago at Valencia was not a good bike, but the Suzuki now is an unbelievable bike. So I'll try to do the same with Aprilia.

"I think the base Aprilia has right now is really high. They had the new bike in Qatar, so no winter tests. They are really motivated. They have a lot of new things to try. I can't wait to start work and use my experience from Suzuki there."

Espargaro is currently eleventh in the world championship, eleven points behind his Suzuki replacement Andrea Iannone (Ducati).

FP1 at Valencia takes place on Friday morning.

By Peter McLaren


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