Aprilia and Aleix Espargaro are finally MotoGP Grand Prix WINNERS!

In Aprilia’s 6th season in the premier class- MotoGP, they have finally achieved their dream of being race winners. The RS-GP is a grand prix winning motorbike! And the rider to put the bike, and himself, on the top step of the podium- Aleix Espargaro. On his 200th race start he delivers the perfect performance and result to claim his first win in MotoGP. Aleix was with Aprilia for their 6 year project and has seen the ups and downs. The Aprilia project looked so poor that a couple old seasons ago Aleix even contemplated retiring altogether. But he stuck with the team, and they kept chipping away and putting the work in- and it has paid off big time. This did not feel like a fluke victory. Aleix topped all but one session on Saturday and the warm-ups on Sunday. He qualified on pole. He clocked the fastest lap time en route to his and the teams first ever win. There were genuine signs of Aleix having the pace and the Aprilia having the performance good enough to compete for the win.

Aleix did not have the best of starts off the line, and Martin and his Ducati lead the race going into turn 1, with Aleix and his younger brother Pol, on his Honda, almost coming together even before getting past the first corner. The two riders in the front, Martin and Aleix, managed to pull away from the chasing pack and consistently maintained a 2 second gap. The Aprilia and the Ducati out front kept trading places. The Ducati power getting Martin out front on the straights, the better handling of the Aprilia (along with some slipstream help) meant that Aleix was right behind the rear tire of the Ducati. Aleix had the better race pace, and on lap 20 of 25, he made the move stick and carried the lead all the way to the chequered flag. Jorge Martin came home in 2nd place and will gladly take the 20 points after 2 DNFs in the first two races of the season.

The race long scuffle between the two out front also meant that Alex Rins on his Suzuki was able to cut the gap to the front to less than a second. His teammate Joan Mir finishing just behind in P4. The Suzukis once again displaying their improved power this season, but they need to do better in qualifying, so that they can make the advantage count come race day. Still, promising signs for Suzuki and if they string a full weekend of top performance, they will really take the fight to the rest of the grid.

Elsewhere, it wasn’t the best of Sundays for Ducati, Yamaha, or Honda. Martin was the only bright spot for Ducati. Pecco Bagnaia also did well to finish 5th after starting 14th. But Ducati will be hoping that they and Pecco- last season’s runner-up, will be doing more than recovery jobs. They will hope that this P5 is something to build on. Jack Miller and Enea Bastianini having poor weekends on their Ducatis, and Zarco crashing out. Same story with Honda- Marc ruled out of this grand prix due to illness and Pol crashing out. The Yamahas had a weekend to forget too with Morbidelli having to retire due to a rear tire issue (an issue on both the Yamaha bikes, and not one that the riders or team saw coming when prepping for this season). Current champion Quartararo finished a disappointing P8 and was visibly frustrated after the race. This is a big season for him as his contract with Yamaha expires at the end of the season. He has been vocal about his frustrations with the team and the seemingly lack of progress and will not have a shortage of offers should he choose to leave.

But all of this chaos means one thing- this season is continuing to deliver with top quality racing and unpredictability. 3 races in and we have had 9 riders on the podium. And the last 5 races have been won by European manufacturers. Something that seemed so unlikely with Yamahas and Hondas dominance over the years. This is a welcome change though. New riders on top, MORE riders competing for places, more teams fighting for wins. This is shaping up to be one of the most competitive seasons we have ever seen in MotoGP. Bring on Austin, USA in a week’s time!

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