As reported, Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro will have a new crew chief from this weekend's San Marino MotoGP with Pietro Caprara parachuted in to replace Marcus Eschenbacher.

Espargaro confirmed the main reason for the change is Eschenbacher's switch to KTM, Aprilia's closest rival, next season. 

But while he understands the move, and agreed to it, Espargaro admitted it's far from ideal.

"It's not a very good thing because I don’t like to change during the season," Espargaro said. "Actually, I don't like to change ever. I think stability is the best thing. But unfortunately this season has been a disaster for us, in many ways. 

"So for a couple of reasons, not just one, we decided to change the crew chief. As you know next year Marcus will move to KTM. As you can imagine, KTM and Aprilia are fighting [on track] and for Aprilia it was not nice to start to try the 2019 things with him and also for a lot of small details we decide to change. 

"We will see what the new crew chief, Pietro Caprara, brings. He is an Italian guy who has been working with Aprilia the last month, with a lot of other experience in the past, with very talented riders. 

"I hope he can give us a different point of view, a different direction, because obviously we are really lost this year.

"I have a really good human relationship with Marcus but sometimes you have to separate and I'm not good at this. I'm a really passionate guy and I feel really bad the week after. 

"But we have to separate the job from the human relation and I think it was necessary [to change]."

While Aprilia are acting to protect their technical developments from KTM, the Italian factory looks set to gain new insight into the Austrian brand with Bradley Smith tipped to join Aprilia as a test and wild-card rider in 2019.

Espargaro reiterated he would be pleased to see the Englishman get the role. Paddock rumours suggest a Smith-Aprilia deal could even be completed this weekend.

"I talked with Bradley at the last Grand Prix. He was really interested to join us," Espargaro said. "For sure what we need in the team is somebody who really wants to come. Not somebody that is waiting to decide, to see if there's another thing. Bradley, when he talked to me, he said 'for me it's a priority'. He doesn't want to stay in KTM because they have many test riders and what he wants is to race and be really involved. He was really convinced and I talked with Romano about Bradley and he's a really good option. Bradley in the last two-three GPs improved a lot with the KTM. So it's good if somebody is motivated to come and help us and race. it's important for the pace and the speed that the test rider is able to do four-five GPs."

Espargaro will continue with the new RS-GP frame from Silverstone and also get a new spec engine for this weekend, as used by team-mate Scott Redding in practice for the British MotoGP.

Is Espargaro not afraid he could lose direction by trying so many parts?

"Yeah, but which way? I'm super slow this year and not competitive. Last year for example in Misano FP3 in the dry I was sixth and 0.4 from pole position. This year it's impossible. I cannot stay even in the points. Its crazy. It's unbelievable how we destroyed last year's bike. So for me we have nothing to lose. We are super slow. The bike is not working well. We are not putting temperature in the front tyre. We are super far from last season. So sincerely I'm not afraid, we can just go better."

Pressed on why he thinks Aprilia has talen a backwards step this year, after matching their MotoGP best of sixth in 2017, the Spaniard explained:

"We changed a lot the balance of the bike. We moved a lot the weight of the bike and we did a mistake, obviously. We are far from the right front temperature for the tyre. Last year our problem was that we were sometimes at the last part of the race destroying the front tyre. Never the rear. Now we are cooking the rear tyre, which is very strange. So we have to rebalance the bike. The problem is that with the 2018 bike we cannot come back to last year's bike.

"So this weekend we try to change a little bit the balance. Then we have two days of testing next week where we can do a let's say hybrid bike with the 2017 and 2018 and see if this is a problem. Because obviously we have to start on the 2019 bike and understand if this is the real problem."

Finally, Espargaro also commented on the news that a rider with no previous MotoGP experience - Christophe Ponsson - will make his MotoGP debut this weekend, in place of the injured Tito Rabat at Avintia.

"I say many times in the past. MotoGP is a super difficult class. For me we cannot give a MotoGP bike to whoever because when we are together it's just corner one because for him it will be super difficult to be competitive in just three days. But it's enough to create a disaster with carbon brakes, with almost 300 horsepower, also maybe a new track for him. It would be better to have an F1-style special licence system."

Meanwhile Aleix's younger brother Pol will return to action alongside Smith this weekend, having been sidelined by collarbone and back injuries since Brno in early August.

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