Aleix Espargaro has spoken of the "hurt" he felt when learning that Suzuki had signed Andrea Iannone through one of his mechanics, and revealed he is now entering the new season with a renewed sense of purpose.

In a frank interview held soon after Aprilia's MotoGP team launch, Espargaro detailed his misery at a lack of competitiveness at the beginning of 2016, as the switch to Michelin rubber penalised his aggressive, late-braking style.

"I cried a lot, a lot, a lot after the warm-up at the Qatar GP," he said of that trying opening to the year. "I never cried in my life because of a result in MotoGP, or in a race. But I was desperate. I wasn't enjoying it."

A pragmatist, the elder of the Espargaro brothers accepted that, with his up-and-down results in mind, Suzuki - a factory that, in his words, treated him like "a king" during his two-year stay - may be looking elsewhere to complete their rider line-up for 2017.

It was, however, their means of informing him that left a bad taste. Arriving in Mugello for the sixth race of the year, Espargaro learned of Suzuki's acquisition through a casual interaction with his mechanics, rather than a member of team management.

"It hurt me," he admitted. "Actually, the two years I was in Suzuki I was a king. Everything I needed, I had it. Everything I asked for, I had it. It was everything fantastic.

"But, the last part, the way they did... I mean, if they decide that Iannone was my replacement, that's OK. I'm not the boss of Suzuki. I would agree. But for me, the way they did everything in the middle of the GP, they talk with the mechanics before me.

"For me, it was not the correct way. When you are in a difficult moment as I was, I never talked bad of the Suzuki. I never said that the Suzuki was s**t when I was crashing. Never, ever.

"I was trying chassis, trying everything the engineers told me. So I felt a little bit bad. But, you know, things are like this. This world is not easy!"

On that afternoon in Tuscany that upset him so, he continued: "I remember when we arrived in Mugello, I arrived on Wednesday and my mechanics told me, 'Aleix, I don't know if you know but we just made a meeting this morning and Iannone is coming.'

"I said, 'What!?' They said, 'Yeah, yeah, they told me about Iannone.' I said, 'What? But who told you?' 'They [Suzuki] made a meeting with all of us. Hello. Good morning!'

"For me, it was not the way to do it. But it was the only thing that really hurt me because I was not competitive. I know. It's very easy. I was not competitive so another can come. This is very clear. But, the way the did it..."

The Catalan nonetheless recovered his self-belief and continued adapting to Michelin's new front tyre through the season. By Aragon, he was scrapping for the front six once again, and podium fights soon followed in Japan and Australia.

More than that however, Espargaro pointed to a desire to prove those who feel Aprilia is a significant step down from Suzuki wrong as a strong motivating factor going into 2017, his eighth full-time season in MotoGP.

"What I like a lot is that a lot of people told me after leaving Suzuki and now going to Aprilia is two steps down. So this gives me a lot of motivation.

"I trained more than ever in my life this winter. I've lost three kilos from last season. So I'm fully ready to get aboard this project. I think we started better than what everybody expect."

CLICK HERE to read the full interview with Aleix Espargaro

 

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