Aleix Espargaro won't be happy unless he can able to put the 'best Aprilia he's ever ridden' onto the MotoGP podium in 2020.

A veteran of nine premier-class seasons and five different brands of machine, the Spaniard has been waiting since Aragon 2014 to make a return to the MotoGP podium.

Espargaro has so far matched Aprilia's best four-stroke result of sixth place on three occasions, but feels he finally has the machinery to fight for the rostrum repeatedly in 2020.

"I feel super good physically and that I'm riding better than ever in my career," Espargaro told the official MotoGP website. "This is going to be my third season at Aprilia and with all my crew chief and mechanics around me I feel we are a really strong group.

"We made some big changes to the bike for this year. There were some small [reliability] problems in Malaysia and Qatar, but the overall competitiveness of the bike has been much much better than in past seasons."

Aprilia's progress hasn't come from one particular area, Espargaro said, but by making the machine easier to control at the limit. A benefit that becomes magnified over a race distance.

"The RS-GP 2020 is the best bike from Aprilia I've ever ridden," he declared.

"The engine is more 'electric', meaning the character is easier for the rider. The chassis is also a lot easier, the bike turns more in the second part of the corner and the biggest difference is overall you feel like everything is calmer.

"You are less stressed on the bike, can brake more relaxed... So for the race simulations in both Malaysia and Qatar it has been easier to ride, not just over one fast lap.

"I think it's going to be a fun season. It sounds maybe strange, but I feel like I'm ready to fight for the podium. It's not going to be easy, the level in MotoGP this year is unbelievably high.

"But Aprilia has made a big effort, I see that I'm riding super good, so why not?

"If I don’t finish at least a couple of races on the podium I won't be happy. I always put a lot of pressure on myself, but this is why I'm here."

Unfortunately, it will be at least a month (and probably more) before Espargaro has a chance to release that pressure with MotoGP on hold until at least May 3 due to the coronavirus.

"I can't want to start racing because that’s when you really know how good or bad the bike is, because in the pre-season it’s not that easy to compare with the rivals," said Espargaro.

"Unfortunately, we have to wait a little more… I hope it will be soon."

Test rider Bradley Smith has been lined up as Espargaro's 2020 team-mate pending the outcome of Andrea Iannone's FIM hearing for a positive doping test.

 

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