Despite a third MotoGP podium being tantalisingly close, Aleix Espargaro is not disappointed with having to settle for fourth in Qatar.

The Aprilia rider, who started from P5 on the grid, lost a few positions early on before mounting an impressive comeback. 

As part of his better-than-expected late race performance, Espargaro managed to overhaul two of the last three MotoGP world champions, starting with Suzuki’s Joan Mir who he had been stuck behind for several laps. 

With the Suzuki man making a breathtaking start from eighth to fourth, good money would have been put on the Spaniard coming through and winning due to his race pace shown in FP. However, like team-mate Alex Rins, both riders began to fade which made it easier for Espargaro. 

The second of said world champions that the Aprilia rider picked off was Marc Marquez, as Espargaro produced a brilliant move heading into turn 10 with five laps remaining. 

And while Espargaro began to close in on brother Pol and Brad Binder for the podium, the 32 year-old ran out of time due to two reasons, the first was down to taking longer than expected to pass Mir and Marquez before a ‘small mistake’ at turn four was the deciding factor. 

"Coming so close to the podium and missing it may seem like a disappointment, but I am extremely satisfied with our weekend and today’s race," said Espargaro. 

"The times show that I was one of the fastest on the track. Unfortunately, I lost a few tenths battling with Marc and Joan. 

"And in the end, I think that our tyre situation was better than my brother’s and Brad’s, but a small mistake on turn 4 kept me from attempting an attack in the finale. 

"In any case, Aprilia is in the mix - we’re in it! It will be an extraordinary championship where we’ll certainly be able to battle with the top riders and the best manufacturers in the world."