When Aleix Espargaro once again matched the Aprilia RS-GP's best race result of sixth, at Jerez this season, his 5.164s margin to victory was also the closest the factory has been to the top in the MotoGP era.

The result further confirmed Espargaro's impressions that the new machine was Aprilia's best-yet and felt confident a podium was now within reach.

By the time of the summer break Espargaro had handed the RS-GP its first MotoGP front row start, at Sachsenring, but a top-five race finish continued to elude the Spaniard.

Twice Espargaro took the chequered flag within sight of the podium, 2.6s adrift at Jerez and Sachsenring, while eighth in the world championship puts him on course for by far his most successful season with the factory.

Aleix Espargaro - MotoGP 2021 REsults
EventPositionGap to 1stGap to 3rd
Qatar17th5.934s4.805s
Qatar210th5.382s3.882s
Portimao6th8.885s3.937s
Jerez6th5.164s2.648
Le MansDNF--
Mugello7th8.030s5.030s
CatalunyaDNF--
Sachsenring7th9.371s2.599s
Assen8th10.346s4.586s

But what is still needed to make the final step onto the MotoGP rostrum? The answer for Espargaro is clear.

"After many years here in Aprilia I think all the engineers really believe in my talent, my job, in everything I say to them. So they really know that right now our limitation is the engine," he explained.

"The good thing is that this year they gave me a bike that the base of the RS-GP 2021 is ready to receive more power. I mean, we are using the full power available and the bike is not making any wheelies due to the new aerodynamics.

"So now we are ready and they know the only thing we are missing is pure power. In the straight when I'm full gas and everything is on the tyre, the full power is not enough to fight with our rivals."

The good news for Espargaro is that, as the only manufacturer still with access to technical concessions, Aprilia can introduce engine modifications at will during the season.

"They are working hard and I'm sure I won't have to wait until 2022 to receive something. I hope that I will have something new for the last part of the season because we are very very close," he said.

"I want to enjoy what we are achieving because we are doing a good job, but I feel frustration inside of myself and I think we just need a little bit to fight for the podium every single race."