Question:
When they come to a race which garage do they go to?

Aleix Espargaro:
It’s good because they can go to both. They try one or two days in the hospitality of one place, then they try the other. They’re neutral. They can enjoy both garages. The good thing is they don’t care if we finish eighth or twelfth. Like any parent in the world they just want to see our faces smiling after the day and they’ll go home happy.

Question:
Your path into MotoGP didn’t follow the standard pattern of two years in both of the support classes. You’ve ridden 125s, 250s, Moto2 machines, CRTs… Does this breadth of experience help when it comes to development?

Aleix Espargaro:
Could be. My career has been a rollercoaster, a disaster. Obviously it’s been very bad because I was in 125s for a year and a half and then I jumped to 250s super young. I tried MotoGP with just 17 years old and then I went back to Moto2. [Then] MotoGP… Everything was not helping me to explode as a rider. What you need as a kid is a little bit of continuity. But the only positive thing I gained was I had to be very fast to adapt to the bikes. I moved very fast to different bikes. Maybe from this I became more sensitive. When I arrived in MotoGP and had to develop the CRT, the ‘Open’ bike (the Forward Yamaha), then the Suzuki and the Aprilia I this has been a good help.

Question:
Did one of those experiences help shape you more than another?

Aleix Espargaro:
I would say that with Open Forward bike I started to be … because with the CRT bike I was very competitive but very far always. The bike was very far from MotoGP [bikes]. But the Open Yamaha was the first bike that allowed me to be very close. Many Fridays I was in P1. I had one podium, one fourth place, one pole position. It was the first bike when I saw that I was really in the front. But I think the year that I improved the most, that I learned the most and was the most special in my career since I started racing was the first in Suzuki. It was the first time that I was a factory rider. It was one of the best teams on the planet – human and technically speaking. That year I grew a lot and this gave me a lot of confidence to learn and improve. They showed me a lot of ways to work differently that I didn’t know in the past with a lot of engineers, a lot of data. All of this experience made me a better rider and helps me a lot here in Aprilia.

Question:
There have been some political situations in the past years when you have voiced your opinion while other Spanish riders have decided not to. Do you feel you have a duty to do this?

Aleix Espargaro:
Many times a lot of people said to me on social media, or even some friends, that you are a public person and arrive to a lot of people. You have to be more quiet and teach the young ones. I say, ‘This is bullshit.’ I have an opinion and can say the same thing as the guy that serves coffee in the morning. It’s my opinion so I can say it. It doesn’t matter how many people follow me or how many wins I have. You have an opinion and if you talk with respect, which I always try to do and sometimes I can make mistakes and then I try to apologise, but if you have respect you have to talk. I feel very bad when I have something inside of me that I feel is not fair. If one situation – political or whatever it is – is not fair, and somebody asks me, and I don’t say anything, I can’t sleep when I go to bed. I can’t sleep! I need to say what I feel. I’m like this. This gives me very bad moments, especially with the political [debates or situations]. But also a lot of people follow me for this. It’s just an example, but if you look at the social media numbers: I never won a title, and I never won a race, but I have a lot of people following me. It’s because they see that I’m an easy guy, a guy who answers everything and is close to the people – just a normal guy. Sometimes it’s positive and sometimes it isn’t.

Question:
This can be quite serious. There were rumours that Loris Baz lost quite a lot of support when he was criticising bullfighting on social media.

Aleix Espargaro:
Yeah, but I think it was a mistake… I’m really against bullfighting but I never said they [matadors] deserve to die. He was too strong. In this case we think quite close but he was maybe too far. You have to be careful. When I was speaking about the political situation in Catalonia I knew perfectly that some Spanish sponsors can close the door for me. But I didn’t care about the money at that time. For me it was more important to defend my people, to defend my ideals, than to think about losing a sponsor in Madrid, for example. Everybody in the life can decide [if they want to do this].

Question:
Does that belief come from your family?

Aleix Espargaro:
I think my brother is, maybe not like me, but really open and really talks about what he thinks. This is the education that my father gave to me, our parents gave to us – just to be as you are. The most important thing when you turn off the light and go to sleep is to be happy and good with yourself. If you are not good with yourself it’s a big problem. I never try to be someone else. I always try to be myself. Sometimes the consequences are not good.

Question:
Has racing and your way of life changed now that you have kids?

Aleix Espargaro:
Yes. It’s strange because it’s just been three weeks, but my priorities changed a lot. A lot. Now I know perfectly why I’m here. My family is the most important thing in the world for me. All the other things that one month ago I thought were so important are not that important right now. I’m not saying that my friends or another part of my family, or my job are not important, but it’s on another level. The perspective changes a lot in just three weeks. It’s amazing. I work a lot with a coach. I started working with him a lot last season and I was on the telephone with him on Monday for three hours and I said, ‘It’s unbelievable how much the perspective changes in just three weeks because of these two pieces that can’t even talk or see me.’ It also gives you a really positive energy that I didn’t have in the past. Also many things in the past that made me feel very sad don’t now. When they say becoming a father really changes your life, it really does!

Question:
Is the euphoria you feel from becoming a father in any way comparable to getting a good result or qualifying on pole position?

Aleix Espargaro:
I need the results. It’s like my fuel. I need this. It’s what makes me get up early to train every morning – not the kids. The kids make me happy but they don’t make me get up to train with the bicycle at 6am. Well, they make me get up… but not to train! I’m a really, really competitive guy and I need the adrenaline of the bikes or the bicycles to live. This doesn’t change.

Question:
Now you’re a father but in the past you were working with Moto3 podium finisher Gabriel Rodrigo in the Junior World Championship. Could you see yourself doing something like this in the future again?

Aleix Espargaro:
I like a lot the new job of Julito Simon [2009 125cc world champion and rider coach] for example. He’s working with world championship guys, but also in the Mediterranean Championship, which is kids. For Julito I think it would be unbelievable to see 12-year old riders riding on a big track for the first time and to see these guys five years later in the world championship. It would have to be one of the best feelings ever. I don’t know my future yet. In the past I was always thinking about my future and what I’ll do when I retire but right now I’m in a different moment. I want to enjoy the present. But this makes me very happy. When Rodrigo made the podium I was very emotional. It was like 0.1% was from my side and it made me feel very good, yeah.

Question:
Many of your rivals are racing into their mid-thirties. Valentino Rossi is still a podium regular at 39. As a 28-year old, do you see yourself racing in MotoGP until that age?

Aleix Espargaro:
No. Not even five, I think. It’s very difficult to know. I want to keep racing for at least four more years. This is clear. I’m 28 years old. I need to be competitive, to ride on a track and feel I can be on top and fight for something. If the situation changes a little bit and I feel like I can fight, or at least be close to the podium, I don’t see why I’d have to retire before 35 years old. But I’m super competitive. There are many riders who are racing just to be there, and I cannot. I feel very bad after one bad result. When I’m home I feel bad, very bad. I cannot disconnect, I cannot be positive. It’s something that really consumes the inside of me. This is why I want to improve and be more competitive. If I am more competitive I’ll keep riding for more seasons. What I’d really is to retire with Aprilia. I wouldn’t like to ride somewhere else. I would like to finish my career with the same brand, trying to improve the bike, trying to make history with this brand. This makes me very happy, because Aprilia is a really good brand but in MotoGP it hasn’t had many experiences, many stories, many good results. Actually their best [MotoGP] result in my sixth place last year in Qatar. I would like to keep riding and making history for Aprilia until the moment I retire.

Question:
You don’t want to start over again somewhere else?

Aleix Espargaro:
I don’t think so. With the age I have and the situation I have, and also where I’ve been racing in the past, it’s very difficult that I will race again in a private team. It’d be very, very, very difficult. Anything can happen in life, but it’d be very difficult. Also to go with another factory is difficult. At the beginning we were saying my career has been a rollercoaster, so I’d like to end my career with more stability. It would make me very, very proud to make history with Aprilia.

Question:
At Valencia last year you admitted you were a little flustered when riding at the front of the race at Phillip Island. You said you may start working on mental training more in the future. Is that something you’ve pursued?

Aleix Espargaro:
Yeah, I’m working with him to have better control in the situations. This doesn’t mean that I have to lose my energy, to change my character. He always says the same: ‘You are like this. You are a nervous guy and like this. We don’t need to change this. But what we tried is he gave me some tools to control situations better, to be more prepared for a situation, to be more prepared for a failure, to be more prepared if some days the bike stops, or if I’m not competitive. To try and carry the situation with more ‘relax’. Obviously this season, for example, the three times the bike stopped were very, very difficult. I talked with him a lot. It helped me quite a lot, but obviously at 28 it’s not easy to change the character.

Question:
But it’s easier to learn how to deal with things…

Aleix Espargaro:
For sure. MotoGP factory riders have a lot of pressure. A lot of people depends on our results. In Italy. In Noale. Here at the track. My family. My manager. The guys that work with me. The guy who drives my motorhome. My physical trainer. You pay a lot of people around you. This gives you a lot of pressure at home, a lot of pressure. If we train a lot our body then why don’t we train our head as well? That’s the most important muscle of our body, to try to be more calm, to have better tools for a situation that doesn’t like you. I’m working on this because it’s important.

Question:
Earlier you said you talk about other things with Pol when you’re away from the track. We know you’re crazy about cycling, but what other things help you disconnect?

Aleix Espargaro:
Many things. For example, I do sometimes things for Pol and he does things for me. Pol likes football, but not so much. I love football. For example, we buy two [season] tickets for Barcelona’s football stadium every year. We go together because it’s a way for both of us to do something else together. We go there, have dinner and we see the match. Sometimes he comes cycling with me. Sometimes I go with him with the dogs. We do many things. We are very good friends and we just do normal things. We share a lot of friends which is good. He has his friends. I have my friends. But we are very connected. I can go with them. He can come out with mine. We do many things. But when we’re together we try to disconnect a little bit because we have a lot of pressure with bikes. We try to do things that are completely different to racing. Actually, I don’t remember the last time I rode a bike – apart from MotoGP – with my brother. He does Supermoto. I do Enduro. But we never go together. Never. We try to do something that’ll relax that isn’t bikes!

Question:
Otherwise it just becomes another competition?

Aleix Espargaro:
Exactly. It’s always a competition!

Comments

Loading Comments...