Aleix Espargaro's good start to 2021 continues as he was a name that routinely appeared at the sharp end of Friday’s Spanish MotoGP Grand Prix free practice sessions. 

The Aprilia rider finished third overall, only behind Francesco Bagnaia and Fabio Quartararo - top two riders in the championship. 

It wasn’t just over one lap that Espargaro was quick either, as he was one of a very select few that could maintain race pace in the 1m 37s. 

"I’m satisfied about day-one. The good thing is it looks like Aprilia and Aleix are working well everywhere we are going. It’s not just about one single track," said the 31 year-old. 

"From lap 1 - lap 2 in FP1 - I felt very strong and comfortable with the bike. With the race tyre I felt I can maintain a really high pace. 

"Overall satisfied. The track is still a bit slippery. All riders will put more rubber on track so tomorrow could change. Why not? I feel good so let’s wait and see.  

"The goal is to improve a bit. Try to start the race and go away from everybody! (Laughs)."

Along with Franco Morbidelli, FP2 seemed to suggest the pair were the strongest regarding race pace, however Fabio Quartararo, Francesco Bagnaia, and Takaaki Nakagami were others who looked particularly impressive as well. 

Espargaro does expect the field to get closer during today’s second day, saying: "Three tenths will cover everybody in FP3. But apart from one hot lap I think we have good pace. 

"I was a bit shocked, we had more than 10 laps in the tyre and I was able to do a very quick lap. This will give me motivation for the race. 

"Especially the Yamahas and maybe the Suzukis will get closer tomorrow. But it’s difficult to go a lot faster than 37s on the race pace." 

While Espargaro was one of the quickest throughout both sessions, the Spaniard seemed to lose time to a few riders in sector two during FP1. 

But after having his trackside man Matteo Baiocco give feedback between sessions, it was a difficult area that was then turned into a strength come the afternoon. 

"This morning after the first session where I lost more time was sector 2. We had our track guy – Matteo Baiocco there – and he gave me some very good tips and information. In the second session I finished top three in the second split," added Espargaro. 

"There I was stronger. I improved a lot from FP1 to FP2. Unfortunately with the soft tyre I didn’t put everything together. 

"I got traffic and made mistakes. In any case I’m fast in every split. If tomorrow we are able to put everything together, maybe we can challenge Bagnaia who is very fast on one hot lap for the first position."

 

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