Aleix Espargaro says he ‘can’t wait’ for Saturday’s sessions after surprising himself by setting his top ten-achieving best Friday time in FP2 at Misano on a rear tyre that had already completed 16 laps.

The Spaniard has tipped Aprilia to enjoy its strongest weekend of the season around a home circuit that better suits the characteristics of the RS-GP and duly demonstrated as much with the third best time in FP1 and tenth quickest - the second best non-Yamaha/KTM rider - in FP2.

Moreover, his fastest time of the day was set on an ageing rear tyre, giving him immense confidence heading into Saturday when he pushes on the soft rear.

“It has been the best Friday of the season so far,” he mused. “I put my best lap time in lap 16 of the rear tyre. I didn’t really expect because the plan was to put laps on the rear soft. I put in the last part of FP2 the tyre of the morning. Lap by lap I started to be more fast more fast. 

“In the end I did a 32.9s - a  top ten time with 15 or 16 laps on the rear tyre, it was impressive. I feel strong, it’s not my favourite track but it’s important to shine here in Italy. I’m very focused. I feel like I’m strong. 

“I can’t wait for tomorrow morning to start the fight with new tyres and see if we can go under 32s and top ten. I think we can do a good race here, I feel really good.”

Revealing team-mate Bradley Smith - who was fifth fastest in FP1 - has a different machine to him in order to test new parts, Espargaro says he feels the RS-GP is quicker than its disappointing results so far (a best of tenth from the opening five rounds) and is determined to rectify this at Misano.

“I think Bradley has a different bike than mine, he’s trying new things on the bike. Sincerely I didn’t have time to ask how he felt but obviously by the lap time and pace he was strong in the morning. It looks positive. 

“I need stability, I need calm. I felt strong. I like this RS-GP 20 but we had some bad luck in the other races. It’s not a good track for us, but we have to be calm [and] use the maximum potential of the RS-GP 20. 

“We are in GP6 and I think we didn’t use the maximum of the bike in very single race. This is what we have to do before we ask for new stuff.”