Aleix Espargaro will start today’s MotoGP Grand Prix of Spain from the middle of the third row with good friends Maverick Vinales and Alex Rins either side. 

2021 has been the best three race start to Espargaro’s Aprilia career with the much improved RS-GP21, but while eighth in today’s race would be a fourth top ten in succession, the Spaniard has demonstrated top five pace all weekend. 

Therefore it’s no surprise that the 31 year-old feels slightly out of position heading into the 25 lap race. 

Espargaro said: "Yeah I think it's not fair our place because I've been a lot stronger than this. This morning I was very strong, then in FP4 I was forced to use my second bike due to mileage. 

"I didn't feel good and I crashed twice. Then I was fast in qualifying but missed the second row for half a tenth or one tenth. 

"It's normal in MotoGP every qualifying to follow other riders and improve their lap times.

"I was sincerely aiming for the first or second row, so the third row is not that bad. We have a very good pace to fight tomorrow for top five, so I can't wait to race."

As Espargaro alluded to, MotoGP qualifying is extremely tight - +0.399s covered the top ten, and two riders who leapfrogged the Spanish rider late on were Jack Miller and Johann Zarco who both had fast riders to follow in front of them. 

The starting position has not taken the shine away from his impressive performance this weekend however, and Espargaro remains confident due to the consistent laps churned out on the medium compound tyre, which is likely to be the preferred race option for many. 

"The confidence is still there. Look how many laps I did this morning with the medium tyre, I was the only rider to go to '37.4. 

"Also in FP4 with the bike I don’t really like, my second bike, I was before the crash the fastest guy on track with used tyres. 

"I was P5 and the four guys ahead had a new rear. So I think overall I'm competitive and fast. 

"But yes P8 in qualifying is not what I was aiming for. The difference is very small and I think some riders in front of me, like some Ducatis, have less pace than me. In one single lap I tried everything but today this was the limit of the Aprilia." 

The second crash during yesterday’s FP4 session was due to a cold tyre which we saw happen to several riders during that session. 

Speaking about the crash, Espargaro added: "When I went out of the pits after the crash (first one), I started to play with the front brake to put the level in the right place because I like everything perfect and feel 1 millimetre of difference. 

"So I was trying to adjust everything and the front tyre temperature dropped a little bit and I crashed again. 

"So I felt very bad for my guys but they fixed everything very quick and I was able to start qualifying with my good bike."

 

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