Aleix Espargaro equalled Aprilia's best MotoGP finish of the four-stroke era, with sixth place in Sunday's Aragon MotoGP.

The Spaniard, also sixth on his RS-GP debut in Qatar, came tantalising close to a new high - crossing the finish line within 1.7s of both factory Yamaha riders, Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi.

Competing at the scene of his only MotoGP podium, for Forward Yamaha in 2014, Espargaro felt he and Aprilia had shown their current potential on Sunday - but with the possibility of a 'very fun' 2018, if they can improve engine performance.

"Today was one of my best races ever. I enjoyed it a lot. I got a bad start but I recovered easily and was in the group with the factory Yamahas, Pedrosa and Dovizioso. Just a little bit frustrated because I thought I could fight at least for fourth place with Maverick," said the Spaniard, who had qualified eighth.

"Anyway I think we've showed a good improvement this season, from [where Aprilia were] last season.

"It's still difficult to fight for the podium with Yamaha and Honda, but we have to be very close behind them every weekend and when they have some problems, like today with Dovizioso, be in front of them. This is the target.

"I give my 100% percent every year whatever I ride, but this project with Aprilia is something more for me. It's something personal, and I will keep working very hard to put the bike on the podium.

"I think if we can improve the engine a little bit, next year is going to be very fun for us."

Espargaro - who has also raced Ducati, Yamaha and Suzuki MotoGP machinery - stated that the RS-GP's chassis is the best he has ridden.

"I don't know if the RS-GP frame is one of the best on the grid, but it's the best I've ever ridden. It suits my riding style a lot, going into the corner I can carry unbelievable speed. Super fast. I have a lot of feeling with the front tyre and this is the best thing for me.

"So we need to improve the engine. The engineers know. The bike needs to lose some weight and improve the engine, because Aprilia and myself have a great opportunity to fight for very important things next season."

Espargaro is to be joined by new team-mate Scott Redding for his second year at the Italian team.


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Aleix, to my mind, put in the best performance of the race.

@Codger wow, I almost agree! First I thought it's going to be Kallio, but he ran out of juice in the end, however must tip the hat for such uncharacteristic showing of KTM in the sharp end. Then I thought Jorge but he ran out too, anyway looking like the old JL is back. Finally I thought, yeah, Aleix. But really in the end there was only one best performance and that was for the #1 spot.

Because honestly, Aleix ran a bit wide once and afterwards he seemed to be a bit sedated in the end, in the sense that he knew he needed this result. Marc, on the other hand, he needed the result too but he went closer to the edge, managing a bigger risk for a bigger reward. Or at least that is the impression I got.

I am looking forward to seeing Aprilia on the podium. Really.

Aleix is just a cool cat! I hope he and Aprilia make the next step!

Yes it's good for Aprilia and AEs after two DNF although can pass Q2 ..

Good improve, we hope Aprilia, Suzuki and KTM can more compete in next time/season.  Very interesting to see 6 factory in motogp..

Great effort as always from Aleix. Really hope he can bring that bike into podium contention. He was working out the Susuki in the end, but they dumped him too soon. They're loss. Doubt Aprillia will make that mistake.