Aleix Espargaro has said he can view the near future in a positive light once more after gaining ten places in the Australian round of the MotoGP series while racing Aprilia’s updated RS-GP to a promising ninth position.

Aprilia brought one “hybrid bike” for the 28-year old to use in Australia, which featured updated electronics, a different fairing and a new chassis, which attempted to alter the RS-GP's weight distribution to eradicate chronic rear grip issues, experienced in previous rounds.

The results were apparent early into the 27-lap outing. “At the beginning of the race with a full tank I could do a low 1m 30s [lap], and I was like, ‘woah!’” he said.

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Espargaro’s top ten finish was made all the more notable once he revealed a knock-on effect of Johann Zarco’s terrifying collision with Marc Marquez on the approach to turn one. Debris from the incident hit the Catalan’s clutch, pinning it back to his left hand, moving a plate he had inserted last October.

“I couldn't see anything actually,” he said, referencing Zarco and Marquez’s collision. “I was in the draft and there were many bikes ahead of me. I was around 18th to 20th at the beginning but I did see a black piece coming quickly towards me.

“It hit my handlebar and the clutch lever went completely down and hit my hand. At the beginning I thought I could not continue and we are lucky that in MotoGP we don't use the clutch so lap-by-lap I started to feel a bit better.

“I just did a ‘radio’ [scan] and the problem is that the plate inside has moved so that's why I have a lot of pain. It is pushing the tendons. I just talked with a doctor and he has been checking the plate – that I had inserted last year – and to see if it stays like this or we have to do something about it.”

On the race as a whole, Espargaro said, “I’m happy overall. Maybe the word is not ‘happy’: I can see the light. The bike is a lot different and I felt great during the race…but this track is quite strange and I don't want to think what we tried here is good or bad. I want to go to Malaysia and just work with this bike to see what the bike brings.

“This year I suffered a lot at every track with lack of grip and lack of stopping of the bike. This bike looks like it is ‘lower’ – even if it isn’t – it feels that way. The stability is a lot higher. This is a strange track…but the first feedback is good.

“We could finish the race in the top ten after a difficult weekend. In the warm-up this morning we finally found something for what we thought is a big problem and from the first lap I rode much better.

“I rode quicker in warm-up than the qualifying and in the race the fastest lap was half second slower than pole position but my fastest lap was one second quicker than my time in qualifying.

“So obviously I improved quite a lot and I felt better. Unfortunately in the last three-four laps the rear soft tyre dropped a lot and I couldn't fight for eighth place. Anyway ninth place and riding a lot quicker made me a little bit happy.”

Espargaro was able to pass Bradley Smith in the closing laps, and believes he could have finished even higher had he not spent several laps attempting to pass Karel Abraham, using Alvaro Bautista’s GP17 for the weekend.

“I lost a lot of time at the beginning of the race to overtake Abraham. I had the medium front tyre and not a lot of feeling. I needed time to overtake [Dani] Pedrosa, Abraham and [Franco] Morbidelli and my brother. There was a three second gap to [Hafizh] Syahrin, Bradley and myself.

“I pushed but the tyre was destroyed, the soft rear was spinning a lot in the left corners. It was a mistake to race with the soft but we’d had a difficult weekend and hadn’t tried the hard rear.”

On the chances of missing this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix, due to the damage to his hand, Espargaro added, “We will try [to race]. It is not related with the pain because if I could race here I can race easily in Malaysia. It is more related to the plate and how it has moved. We’ll see.”

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