Crash.net sat down with Aleix Espargaro at Assen to discuss a variety of issues, including the 2018 season to date, becoming a father and whether he sees himself racing until he’s 40.

Question:
How difficult is it racing and testing, developing a project like this while trying to get results?

Aleix Espargaro:
It’s very difficult. For me the most difficult thing is the calendar. It’s very important to be fit physically, but it’s also important that your head is fresh. If every time you finish one race weekend, after two days you have to test with another group of people, and then you fly back home after another two days, and then back to a GP. If this is two months, [it’s] no problem. But every year the season is longer and longer. This year in January we already took the plane to Malaysia. Almost in December we’ll still be riding. In the last month of November we have a test in Jerez. And in the summer we only have two weeks’ break, which is not a break, at least for myself. I cannot disconnect with just two weeks. I have to keep training. It’s crazy. Your head explodes. It’s very important to have a test team to be in your home doing whatever you want to reset the mind. Physically, almost everyone is very physically fit, but the head is the most important thing – more than the body. Everybody has his tricks to reset the mind, to be fresh, to be with his family, to be in the gym, or with his dog, or on the sofa… But if you have a full calendar, it’s impossible. In the second part of the season you go crazy.

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Question:
Could this be one of the reasons that results this season haven’t been what you expected?

Aleix Espargaro:
No, I don’t think so. The results have been a disaster. The first part of the season has been a real disaster but I don’t think… Especially in three of seven races the bike stopped. I crashed in just one race. We’ve been testing quite a lot, but it’s still early. If we’re not testing a lot more in the season it would be great.

Question:
Was it the same schedule last year?

Aleix Espargaro:
Yeah, we tested a lot last season as well. The Aprilia has no ban, so there is no limit to test. We can test whenever we want. We did many tests. I think it’s good, it’s important. It means Aprilia wants to grow. Me, I also want to improve the bike. But as I said before, a test rider, it’s very important that he’s competitive. He can do this job because he doesn’t have the same races as me. I think it’s better.

Question:
You urged Aprilia to sign Scott to stay as a test rider. Do you think he’d be ideal?

Aleix Espargaro:
No, I didn’t really push for Scott to stay. One month ago I pushed Romano [Albesiano – Aprilia’s technical chief] to have a really fast test team, a more professional test team. When he told me that they made an offer to Scott to stay, I said it was a brilliant idea. Scott knows the bike. He’s a very fast rider. He rode the Honda and Ducati in the past. He knows the Aprilia. There is no one better in the world to do this job than him. This is obvious and clear.

Question:
And it would give you more rest…

Aleix Espargaro:
And it gives me more rest! And apart from this, we can do even more testing. We can do three times more testing and he can do it. If we want to beat the Japanese bikes and also Ducati, we need to do more testing than them – three times more. We need to try many things. We need a fast test rider and I think it’s a good improvement for next season.

Question:
But Aprilia is a lot smaller than those companies you mention…

Aleix Espargaro:
In reality it’s not. In reality Piaggio is a lot bigger than Ducati. The Piaggio group can invest whatever they want. They are very, very big. It’s in their hands to invest and decide where they want to put the bike. Obviously it’s clear the situation we have right now. If we want to improve and we want to beat the best bikes in the world, we have to improve in all areas.

Question:
Romano Albesiano said one of the things that needs improving is for the team to work in a calmer way over a race weekend. Can you expand on that a little?

Aleix Espargaro:
Yeah, this season has been difficult. I think the organisation, we can improve a lot. In the garage we have to be more calm and have better organisation. I think with the crew chief I have – he’s a very, very intelligent guy but on the organisation side I have to improve myself and also him. So for next season I’m sure it will be much better. Obviously, this season when you feel good on the bike and you are close to the top six and the bike stops three times [deep exhale] it’s not easy to be calm at the next round. At the next round it happens again. You try to be calm and it happens again. So it’s very difficult for me to be calm and not have pressure. You want to recover the points that you’ve lost in three rounds in one. It’s worse, a lot worse. But this is the world championship; you don’t have all of your life to be here. The season has not started in the best way to be relaxed. But I fully agree with Romano that we’re missing a little bit of pace in the garage.

Question:
Last year you said at the beginning of 2016, when the series had switched from Bridgestone to Michelin tyres, was one of the worst periods of your life. You would cry after sessions, it was that bad. How do you manage difficulties now?

Aleix Espargaro:
I’m still emotional. I’m still a really emotional guy. It has been difficult, this season because in six races, the bike stopped in three, my confidence dropped a lot. I was a bit more nervous in the garage. I think I managed it a little bit better than the past. Then it was the first time that I was a factory rider. Now I have more experience. Anyway, it was not easy. I think when you have a problem – for example the three I had this season – there is nothing I can do. The bike stopped, but I was competitive. It’s not as difficult as in Suzuki. Because in Suzuki the bike was good but the problem was that I was not fast, and I could not understand how to ride it. It was harder that time.

Question:
Earlier this year your brother Pol said he couldn’t concentrate at school at times because he could hear the noise of engines at the Circuit of Catalunya in the distance. Was it the same for you?

Aleix Espargaro:
Yeah. OK, my school was very close to the Circuit of Catalunya, but in reality it’s not the most important thing. The most important thing is that in Catalonia the culture, the atmosphere is very connected to this sport. You have many small tracks, karting tracks to ride. You have many motocross tracks to ride. I remember when I was six to ten years old I had 20 championships to choose [from]. It was the only place in the world that this happened. When you were growing up it was very easy – not the same, because it’s more expensive, but similar to playing football. You can play football with just a ball and then you go out and play. In Catalonia in the past when I was a kid, it was very similar. It was very easy to be on track for the bikes.

Question:
So conversations at school with other kids are about bikes?

Aleix Espargaro:
Yeah, it is. Many of my friends had small bikes to ride. Obviously it was easier to ride with a motocross bike than a road one. A lot of my friends that don’t race, have a bike to go on Sunday, and play a little bit. My friend Joan has a bike in his house to go on at the weekend. It’s very popular, very easy. It was very accessible.

Question:
Both you and Pol are factory MotoGP riders. Did having someone that competitive around when you were growing up push you on?

Aleix Espargaro:
For sure. All of our life we were competing to be faster than the other one. After all of our life, when we look back at the start of our careers, to see us as two factory riders in MotoGP, the most difficult championship in the world, is a dream. It’s unbelievable. Apart from brothers, all of our careers we have been very good friends. This is very important. It’s strange because obviously we talk a bit about bikes, like what he feels with the KTM or what I need with the Aprilia but when we’re together we talk mainly about things other than bikes. Maybe because we’re full of bikes, we talk about other things. But yeah, it’s a pleasure to see where we are now.

Question:
How is it for your parents?

Aleix Espargaro:
Difficult! For my father now it’s more easy. I remember at the start he was more nervous. When I started to race with road bikes he was very nervous but now he’s a lot more calm. But my mum, no. She’s super nervous, the same as when we were kids. This didn’t change...

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