To say that Saturday at Aragon was a day to forget for the Espargaro family would be a massive understatement.

It began with factory KTM rider Pol re-breaking his healing left collarbone in morning practice, sending him back to hospital for surgery.

Then older brother Aleix struggled to 15th on the grid, at his and Aprilia's best circuit of last season, with a lap time slower than in 2017.

"I was with [Pol] and he's very sad about it because it's been a very difficult season for both of us with the injuries," said Aleix. "I'm just trying not to think too much. I really want this season to finish because I'm not enjoying anything.

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"Myself and especially my brother have had a lot of injuries so I just want this season finished in the best way. He will be operated on today, in the afternoon."

Aleix, who qualified eighth and finished sixth at Aragon last season, confirmed he had asked for a 2017 spec RS-GP to be available this weekend, having been faster on the old bike during a back-to-back test at Misano.

"It's difficult to know what would happen [today with the 2017 bike], but obviously I was very fast last year," he said.

"I was pushing a lot to have one [2017] and one [2018], but it was not possible, so it's better not to think about it. Obviously I was really insisting to have it, but if it's not possible it's better to focus on the 2018."

But his assessment of how the current bike had behaved today wasn't encouraging: "One more race, everything the same. I'm a little bit stronger in this layout. Actually I feel that in the race if the tyre is the right one we can fight for the top twelve, which is slightly better than Misano, but it's always the same.

"Its difficult to stop the bike and when I release the front brake I cannot make the bike turn, so I have to smash the front brake all the time and then accelerate because if not, the bike doesn't transfer [weight].

"It's always the same problem. The engine sincerely last year was a little bit stronger at this track, I lose a little bit less from the others, we are losing almost 10k in the speed which is also not helping."

Looking to the future, Espargaro confirmed that Aprilia is in advanced negotiations with the vastly experienced Antonio Jimenez (currently working with Xavi Vierge in Moto2) to be his crew chief in 2019.

"Yeah, we are close that he will work with us. I have to say that I'm very happy with Pietro Caprara [who joined the team at Misano]. I feel slightly better session by session with him. So I would really like also to keep him as well in the staff of the team.

"But to work with Antonio, a guy with a lot of experience that has been working in this garage as well, also he speaks my language... We just need someone calm, to put order in the garage and I think Antonio can be this man. So I hope he can help us."

Team-mate Scott Redding qualified in 21st place.