Aleix Espargaro

Aleix Espargaro
Full Name: 
Aleix Espargaró Villà
Birth Date: 
29 July, 1989
Driver Status: 

Aleix Espargaro Biography

Aleix Espargaro will compete with the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini in the 2021 MotoGP World Championship for what will be his fifth season with the Italian manufacturer and his 12th season in MotoGP.

Now the second most experienced rider on the grid after Valentino Rossi, though Espargaro's 185 GP starts haven't included a win as yet he has given Aprilia its best results in MotoGP since its return to action in 2015.

Espargaro, whose brother Pol will line up with the Repsol Honda team, will be partnered by Lorenzo Savadori at Aprilia for 2021.

Aleix Espargaro - Route to MotoGP

A fine example of how to grasp your opportunities when presented to you, Aleix Espargaro made his full world championship debut in 2005 riding a 125cc Honda for Seedorf RC3, showing decent rookie form to take a best finish of ninth on the way to 16th.

A switch to BQR Honda beckoned in 2006, but though a series of poor results did not make him an obvious candidate to receive an early graduation to the 250cc class, he was nonetheless installed as BQR’s replacement for Repsol Honda-bound Martin Cardenas from round eight.

Fortunately, Espargaro would prove better suited to the larger machine, scoring in all but two of the remaining nine races, peaking with a best of ninth place at Sepang on the way to 19th in the final standings.

Staying with the Blusens team for a full-term in 2007, but switching to Aprilia machinery, Espargaro enjoyed only a marginal improvement to 15th overall and cracked the top ten just once all season, yet again at Sepang.

Moving to Lotus Aprilia for 2008, Espargaro was a regular top ten contender, though it would take until the final four races for him to shine as he breached the top eight for the first time, with Sepang once more proving favourable as he claimed a fifth place finish.

Destined to join the Camptella team for third full year of 250GP racing, Espargaro’s career was thrown into turmoil when the outfit withdrew on the eve of the season, leaving him without a ride. Taking up a development role testing the forthcoming Moto2 machine, Espargaro did return to 250GP for two mid-season appearances with Team Balatonring, claiming a career-best finish of fourth at Assen and seventh at Sachsenring.

Back on the sidelines, Espargaro seemed destined to spend the second-half of the year working on a Moto2 deal for 2010, only for him to receive a surprise call to substitute for Mika Kallio in the Pramac Ducati MotoGP team at Indianapolis and Misano.

Aleix Espargaro - MotoGP Career (2009 - Present)

Pramac Ducati (2009-2010)

An unexpected opportunity for him, Espargaro shrugged off his lack of experience aboard the notoriously tricky Desmosedici to show respectable pace, even out-performing regular rider Niccolo Canepa by finishing 13th and 11th at Indy and Misano respectively.

Espargaro’s efforts did not go unnoticed and when the out-of-favour Canepa injured himself towards the end of the year, he returned to compete in the final two events, claiming more points’ finishes in 11th and 13th.

Having been barely known to many prior to his MotoGP debut, Espargaro’s reputation soared on the back of these surprisingly good results, prompting Pramac to offer him a full-time deal for 2010.

With a full winter of training behind him, Espargaro quickly broke into the top ten during the early stages of the 2010 season, finishing ninth at Le Mans and eighth at Mugello, though it would take him until Phillip Island to reach the highs of the latter result again.

In the end, Espargaro didn’t disgrace himself on a bike that struggled for overall competitiveness, and while his eventual 14th in the standings saw him behind fellow satellite Ducati rider Hector Barbera, he did at least have the measure of more experienced team-mate Kallio.

Despite this, his efforts weren’t enough to earn a stay of execution, with Pramac favouring veteran pairing Randy de Puniet and Loris Capirossi for 2011.

Pons Racing Moto2 (2012)

As such, with no MotoGP seats available, Espargaro opted for Moto2 in the hope that he could emulate countryman Toni Elias in forging a path back to the premier class.

Joining the Pons Kalex team, Espargaro struggled to make a regular impression in the ultra-competitive series, his results fluctuating as the season continued. In the end, a podium finish in Barcelona and a fifth place at Aragon helped Espargaro secure some spotlight time in 2011, while he also saved himself the indignity of being out-performed by younger brother Pol, the pair split by just a single point in 12th and 13th by the end of the season.

Even so, despite a less-than-spectacular Moto2 campaign, Espargaro would find himself gracing the MotoGP grid once again in 2012 as one-half of Aspar’s burgeoning CRT project.

Aspar ART CRT (2012 - 2013)

Paired with the man who replaced him at Pramac, de Puniet, Espargaro came into the season with the benefit of having the best-sorted CRT machine beneath him, the Aprilia-engineered ART proving a cut above its CRT rivals.

Even so, Espargaro still had de Puniet to contend with as a rival and a season-long duel would ensue as the pair battled one another for the unofficial CRT title. Though de Puniet had the edge initially, Espargaro would prove a more consistent finisher towards the end of the season which, coupled to six top ten finishes in the latter nine races, would see him come out on top by a fairly comfortable margin.

Having blown away the competition in 2012 to become the first unofficial ‘champion’ of the CRT class, Aleix Espargaro defended his title in 2013 with an even more comprehensive performance aboard the Aspar ART.

Indeed, there were times in 2013 when it wasn’t a question of whether Espargaro would win the CRT class, but which prototype riders he would embarrass, either in qualifying or in the race.

Cracking the overall top ten on eight occasions and claiming 14 class wins from 18 races, Espargaro ended the season with more than double the points of nearest rival and 2014 team-mate Colin Edwards, while he also had the pleasure of comfortably out-scoring prototype rider Andrea Iannone.

Forward Racing Yamaha Open (2014)

Espargaro finally got his hands on more competitive machine in the form of the M1 powered Forward Yamaha for 2014, when he delivered a breakthrough season by remaining head and shoulders above his fellow Open class riders on the way to claiming a first MotoGP pole and podium.

Frequently a thorn in the side of the Factory class competitors, Espargaro and the new Forward Yamaha package would prove a revelation from the first days of testing through to the end of the year. Though the benefits of a softer compound tyre meant the bike occasionally flattered to deceive in practice and qualifying, Espargaro was extraordinary in his advantage over what was still an accomplished Open class field.

Espargaro was the top Open rider in all but one of the races he finished this year - that lone defeat being due to having remounted after a crash, peaking with a historic pole position at Assen and then second place in Aragon.

Suzuki (2015 - 2016)

Espargaro's 2014 performance carried him to a dream factory contract for the returning Suzuki team. The highlight of the Spaniard’s first Suzuki season was a pole position in Catalunya, one of three front row starts aided by the softer rear tyre, with his best race result a sixth place in Aragon.

Espargaro got the better of highly rated rookie team-mate Maverick Vinales in all but two of the races they both finished, although Espargaro’s three DNFs (compared to two for Vinales) meant he was only eight points clear of the youngster by the conclusion of the season. But Espargaro’s 11th place in the championship was four places lower than the previous year, placing him under pressure for 2016.

Alas, though the Suzuki was an improved package in 2016 - allowing Vinales to score a memorable maiden win at Silverstone en route to fourth in the standings - Espargaro's form stalled, his four top six finishes only earn him a relatively modest 11th in the standings once again. 

Aprilia (2017 - Present)

With Suzuki opting for a fresh rider line-up in 2017 of Alex Rins and Andrea Iannone, Espargaro instead headed over to another factory set-up in Aprilia.

However, it has been a sobering four years for Espargaro who despite seeing off all of his team-mates in that time, has struggled to make the big step needed to transform the Italian firm into a MotoGP powerhouse.

Indeed, by all accounts there are occasions where it appears Aprilia has gone backwards with Espargaro’s best season coming in 2017 with a pair of sixth place finishes, which have remained his and the outfit’s best results in that period.

With reliability a drawback for the team and a chassis that cannot make the most of a seemingly potent - if fragile - engine, it has been a slog for Espargaro but one he will hope bears fruit in 2021 now Aprilia is the only team on the grid with the freedom to test outside of competition.