The Spaniard took Aprilia’s first MotoGP win last season and remained in the thick of the championship battle until the RS-GP’s form faded over the unfamiliar flyaway rounds.

That wasn't helped by Espargaro and team-mate Maverick Vinales being the only Aprilia riders on the grid, starving the factory of track data.

By contrast, Ducati, which fills a third of the MotoGP grid courtesy of its eight riders, was able to overcome early problems with its GP22 and win the title with Francesco Bagnaia.

“I think that one of the secrets of Ducati’s success has been to work together with its satellite teams, to improve the level of the factory team,” Espargaro said.

“They proved that [last] year when they started the season with a lot of problems but worked really well together and achieved the title.”

Bagnaia and the GP22 didn’t win a race until round 6, but went on to bridge a massive 91-point deficit to Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo.

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Ducati 'not relying only on one fast rider'

Ducati Corse technical director Davide Barana confirmed that the factory's long-running eight-bike ‘strategy’ had paid off.

“The season seems to demonstrate that our technical and sporting management style is paying back. To have on track eight different riders with very competitive skills allows up to collect a lot of data,” Barana said.

“That’s also useful for each rider. It has always been our policy to share completely the information between our teams. And also helps a lot to develop the bike for sure because we are not relying only on one fast rider but a lot of them.

“Each has his own character, his own skills and ability, and combining all these different inputs we are sure is one of the key factors to develop our best bike.”

On overcoming the GP22’s early troubles, Barana added: “For racing management, also from a technical and sporting point of view, it’s not an easy job. We always struggle between the need to develop the bike and also to keep confidence on the bike for our riders, also for the technicians to manage properly the bike.

“Once you reach a certain level of performance, sometimes you are scared to more or change something. This is always a risk, but it’s a risk that we have to take because once you stop, once you believe you have ‘arrived’, you start to lose.

“So in the beginning of this season we continued to be aggressive on the development of the bike despite it already being a good bike [at the end of 2021]. And this is the reason it took a while for us and our riders to get the same confidence as with the previous bike to achieve the best results.

“But it’s important for us to never stop development.”

‘The Ducati report’

During last season, eventual MotoGP Rookie of the Year Marco Bezzecchi let slip that Ducati uses its wealth of data to prepare a special report for each of its eight riders after every event, to help them understand where they can improve.

“Almost all the track [at Mugello] I could brake like Pecco, but there are some places where he makes the difference on braking and entry,” Bezzecchi had said. “It’s where I’ve been working since the beginning of the year.

“In Le Mans I was very good, in Mugello I was very good, with just two corners where I was still missing something. But looking at the report from Ducati I am satisfied with my work..."

“I lose only in two places - Corner 4 and 6, in braking - the rest I do well," Bezzecchi continued. "I was riding well in almost all the track but in these two places I could do a little bit better.”

Pressed on what other information is included in the Ducati report, the young Italian said: “It’s a little bit secret! It’s a report from the [previous] race weekend. I cannot say more.”

Do you get to see the reports made for the other Ducati riders? “No, it’s [just] my report.”

RNF will make Aprilia more ‘data rich’

While Espargaro and Vinales continue at the factory team this year, the new RNF Aprilia squad will run five-time MotoGP winner Miguel Oliveira and 2022 rookie Raul Fernandez on year-old machines.

While Espargaro and Vinales will hope to benefit from the kind of extra riding insight contained in the Ducati reports, Aprilia technical director Romano Albesiano expects the doubling of track data to substantially increase their understanding of the RS-GP.

“Our job is basically to increase our understanding of the motorcycle and having different riders, and next year we will have four riders, will make us even more rich in terms of data,” Albesiano said.

“Different riders with a different style, different approach, just gives us more information and to follow a different way of riding [for each] is not difficult honestly.

“Okay you cannot make confusion, but if you have clear ideas, you can do it easily, because these bikes have such a wide range of adjustability.”

Ducati continues with eight riders this season, spread across the factory, Pramac, Gresini and VR46 teams.

Aprilia now joins Honda and KTM with four entries while RNF’s switch and Suzuki’s exit leaves Yamaha as the only factory without a satellite team.