Once again, Aleix Espargaro took the Aprilia RS-GP's best result of the season so far in the Aragon MotoGP.

For the last two years, Espargaro has claimed sixth place in front of his home fans, equalling the factory's best result of the four-stroke era.

The Spaniard overcame some front-end moments to hold fifth during the early laps of the 2019 race and, while he would gradually drop to seventh by the chequered flag, remained competitive to the end.

"The first lap I was a little bit scared and worried because I didn’t feel very good with the full fuel tank," he said. "But then after three laps I started to feel competitive and I enjoyed today a lot.

"I expected a little more, that I would be able to fight the Yamahas until the end, but it was not possible. I gave everything but we lost a little bit in acceleration and I was not able to gain enough in the brakes because I didn’t feel super good today with the front tyre.

"But overall a solid race, the gap between us and the podium [5sec] was small so I'm satisfied."

After Saturday's qualifying, in which he claimed Aprilia's best grid position since 2017, Espargaro had explained that the lack of straight-line braking at Aragon worked to their advantage.

"We don’t have enough weight on the rear in hard braking and in this track apart from Turn 1 every braking is with 25-35 degrees of lean angle," he repeated after the race, in which he finished ten-seconds from winner Marc Marquez (Honda).

"It means you always have weight on the rear, so the engine brake is working and you can use the rear brake. I'm confident that in a track like Australia and Malaysia we can have a similar feeling."

Sunday's result marked Espargaro's first top-ten since Argentina in April. While a welcome boost to morale, Espargaro emphasised there had been no technical breakthrough and the 'reality' remains the same.

"The reality is that we are not competitive enough. Aprilia and myself are not in the place that we have to be. This is the reality. No excuses," he said.

"We can say now we are very happy and whatever but the reality is that we are suffering and I hope and truly believe that next season every single race can be like this one.

"I'm not saying we have to fight for the podium but every race we have to be fighting for top 8 and within 15 seconds from the top guys. Not more.

"In the other tracks we’ve finished more than half a minute. This is embarrassing, so I hope that we can improve.

"Obviously this gives me a bit of confidence and obviously to the team as well. But the reality is the reality. The bike is the same as last week."

Team-mate Andrea Iannone finished in eleventh place, with wild-card Bradley Smith in 19th.

 

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