The combination of the best Aprilia Aleix Espargaro's ever ridden and an Aragon track where he's twice matched the RS-GP's best MotoGP result of sixth place should have been a recipe for success.

But the Spaniard could only manage 13th in last Sunday's race, his worst result at the track since joining Aprilia.

"I was expecting [a good race] as well because in the last years I was competitive here and, as I've repeated many times, this RS-GP 2020 is the best machine I ever had in Aprilia," said Espargaro, speaking on the eve of this weekend's second Aragon event.

"But unfortunately, our bike is not working very good when it's cold. We have no rear grip and we suffer a lot. We tried many things, but I was sliding all race.

"I hope that this weekend with a little bit more temperature we can improve. We have planned to change the bike setting quite a lot to make the rear work a little bit more."

Espargaro added: "I hate to ride in these [cold] conditions because the bike is not working. For example in Qatar and Malaysia at the beginning of the year, hot conditions, the bike was very very good. A lot of grip, the traction was much better.

"But since the cold conditions began, I suffered a lot. The bike has not grip at all. So it's very difficult.

"Obviously it's also a good challenge. I will try to improve the bike settings with the engineers. We have ideas to change the set-up to improve the rear traction but anyway it's not going to be easy.

"Then Valencia is going to be cold, so we will see. Portimao was a lot hotter in the test and I had a lot of traction, a lot of grip and it was a completely different story.

"Then we went to Le Mans and the grip was no more, because it was very cold. Anyway with this Covid, shit year, it's like this. Every race now is very cold, we have to try to adapt. It's not an excuse, it's the reality. So let's try to improve in these conditions.

"The first thing we have to do is understand why the bike has no grip when it's cold like this. We have to analyse how the bike is working, how we are putting weight on the rear tyre and all of these things to understand how we can work because next year it looks like the calendar can be similar, many races in Europe at the end of the year.

"Normally when I'm faster is the first part of the year when it's hotter, and when we go overseas. But this is going to be difficult also next year so we have to improve."

'Mir the man for title'

Asked to comment on who he thinks currently looks strongest out of the four titles contenders – Joan Mir (Suzuki), Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha), Maverick Vinales (Yamaha) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) - all currently covered by 15 points with four rounds to go, Espargaro replied:

"Difficult question. I've said I like a lot how Joan Mir was riding and how the Suzuki was on track. They had a lot of stability and they are able to make a very high corner speed. And Joan is riding super good [this year], making no mistakes. He's fast in every condition. So for me he's the man.

"This year Joan is the guy to beat, but you never know because for example Dovizioso is not fast enough, but he's just 15 points behind! So you can't not think he can win the title.

"For me Andrea is one of the best in the world. But now the thing is that, it's four races, but just three tracks. So it's not going to be easy [for Ducati]. I think the Suzuki will be very, very competitive in Valencia and Portimao as well, because they are very tight tracks where the Suzuki will adapt super good.

"So if here in Aragon the Ducati is not able to beat the Suzuki, I think Joan and Suzuki are the strongest contenders for the titles."

Espargaro did not mention the Yamahas of Quartararo or Vinales.

 

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