Aleix Espargaro says the character of his Aprilia will enable him to continue finishing off races strongly after the Spaniard made an excellent debut on the Italian machine in Qatar.

Espargaro clinched a terrific sixth place behind Dani Pedrosa and admits he was surprised by the grip offered by the RS-GP in the final stages of the first MotoGP race of the season.

"It was a great way to start the season and to start this new project. We knew from all the winter tests that we had to improve a lot in a single lap because we are still looking for more power," Espargaro said.

"With the new tyre we cannot be really competitive but when the tyre drops, the bike is really competitive and the grip is quite high, so I knew we could be strong in the last part of the race: maybe not that much, because second part of the race was super good for me.

"But I enjoyed a lot and last season I never enjoyed as much as I did in Qatar and it was a really good way to start."

Espargaro has quickly gelled with the team and says everyone has been given a lift by his encouraging start to the season at Losail.

"The Aprilia guys did a great job and in the last part of last season they improved a lot the bike. From this year they start with a really good, positive mind and always try to improve. They try to listen to me a lot and after every winter test they try to give me everything I requested," he said.

"To start the season like this gives a boost of power to everybody and it's great. We know that we still need to improve but obviously for Aprilia and myself to be that close is fantastic."

With the second race weekend of 2017 underway in Argentina, Espargaro hopes he can gain a higher grid position to leave himself with less work to do in Sunday's race.

"We still need to improve in a single lap because if you are starting from P15 on the grid then it is quite difficult to be in the top. The second part of the race, when everybody starts to struggle a little bit on acceleration, my bike is exactly the same as with a new tyre. I knew from the first test that this is the character of the bike," he said.

"I hope that every track is going to be the same and obviously we need to improve the acceleration, especially with a new tyre, to try to at least start in the top ten because then it will make my life easier.

"The important day is race day when they give the points and we have a strong bike in the race, so let's say that this bike is made for the race."


Cal Crutchlow - Career Profile by Crash_net