• Team: Aprilia Gresini (factory)
  • Bike: RS-GP
  • Wins: 0
  • Podiums: 1
  • Best Qualifying: 3rd
  • Fastest Lap: 0
  • DNFs: 5
  • Championship position: 8th

Seven years after his only previous MotoGP podium, Aleix Espargaro took the Aprilia RS-GP to new heights with its first rostrum this season.

It was apt reward for the Spaniard, who has been the highest ranked Aprilia rider since joining the factory in 2017, matching the manufacturer's previous 'MotoGP' best of sixth place five-times by the start of the landmark Silverstone round.

It was backed up by a fourth next time in Aragon, putting Espargaro on course to achieve his main goal of a top six championship ranking.

"My biggest dream obviously was the podium, but more important was to finish in the top six of the championship," Espargaro said after Aragon, where he was just one place away from his goal with five rounds to go.

Unfortunately for Espargaro, who finished no lower than tenth in races this season, the top-six quest would be undone by two more DNFs.

That meant a costly total of five non-scores for the year, the only real black mark for Espargaro's season, although two of those were down to technical problems at Le Mans and Red Bull Ring.

Partnered by rookie Lorenzo Savadori for most of the year, Espargaro proved his level as a rider by out-qualifying incoming MotoGP race winner Maverick Vinales during their five end-of-season events together.

Espargaro also finished ahead of Vinales on the three occasions they both reached the chequered flag and we feel that, all things considered, eighth in the world championship was a fair result for the Espargaro-Aprilia combination.

The question now is whether Espargaro can continue to hold the upper hand over Vinales in 2022, having been left in his countryman's shadow when they were previously team-mates at Suzuki.

It also remains to be seen how the end of the Covid technical freeze, which has limited development for the other MotoGP manufacturers, will impact Aprilia's results, as the only factory still to benefit from technical concessions.