Aleix Espargaro was emboldened by his Aprilia RS-GP's performance on Friday at the Sachsenring, to the extent he feels he can "fight for the top [positions]" in Sunday's race.

After showing real potential at the previous three rounds at Mugello, Montmel? and Assen, the Catalan even went as far as stating his aims for the remainder of 2017 include climbing the podium before Valencia, the final race of the year.

Espargaro was in the mix in all conditions, placing a fine fourth in the dry FP1, before setting the fifth fastest time in FP2, held amid showers, meaning he is guaranteed a place in Q2, should the forecasted rain arrive tomorrow morning.

"Yes, I'm very happy," started Espargaro. "I mean, in Mugello we were also fast, in Barcelona we were fast, in Assen we were fast, but the important thing is to be fast and finish on race day.

"But sincerely, in my two years with Aspar CRT Aprilia, this circuit was the best weekend of all, I started fifth on the grid, I was in podium places for two or three laps, so I have good memories of this track.

"It's not a layout that I really like, but I'm fast. I enjoyed it a lot with the Aprilia, in the dry, we were top five for all the session, in the wet as well, which is quite strange, because I'm not super fast in the wet.

"So yes, let's try to manage in the best way, we're in the Q2 just in case it's strange conditions tomorrow, so happy about today."

On what is possible come Sunday, Espargaro continued, "The only thing now, I don't care about the points or the championship, what I want is to finish on the podium before we arrive in Valencia.

"So here again, like in Barcelona or like in Assen - because my last six laps before the rain in Assen, I was the same pace as the podium - so I will be very focused tomorrow, try not to make any mistakes, and if we are able to start in the front, I will fight for the top and we will see."

Espargaro was full of praise for the recently laid Sachsenring surface, saying the grip and smoothness was much improved.

"It's unbelievable. They did a super job, a fantastic job. The tarmac has zero bumps, nowhere. The grip is super high. Actually, I think we finished five seconds from the dry times, which is very very very fast. So, German style! They did a great job.

"This morning I tried to be serious and tried to do all the plan as we discussed before the start. We tried five tyres, two front and three rears, which is quite a lot in twenty laps. I'm happy about the G [the hard option rear], the mandatory tyre.

"I didn't do five laps, because we had not time I only did four timed laps, but that tire I was actually two or three tenths slower than with a soft tire, so it's good, we have some good information, just in case it rains tomorrow, we already tried many things."

By Neil Morrison

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