Aleix Espargaro interview: “I want to be top CRT rider again in 2013”
As eloquent and pleasant as ever, it is always nice to sit down for a catch-up with Aleix Espargaró. The Spanish rider is happy, highly motivated and excited to start a new season that sees him defend his title of ‘CRT Champion’ from 2012. Aleix knows that the title carries a certain amount of responsibility and he will have a target on his back this year but far from feeling under pressure he insists this honour simply spurs him on even more. He has certainly backed up his words in a preseason that has seen him on the pace with the new 2013 version ART machine and he looks likely to be the man to beat once again when the season gets underway for real this weekend.
Preseason is over at last. How would you summarise winter testing?
It has been a bit strange and affectedly quite badly by the adverse weather. We might as well have only been to Malaysia because at Jerez we barely managed twenty laps in three days. Sepang went well though and we had the opportunity to test a lot of things and draw some good conclusions that should help us in future.
Ready for the first GP of the year?
Yes, despite the problems with the weather we have been consistently up front and that’s important. It looks like it will be a fun season with stiffer competition than last year.
What would make Aleix Espargaró happy on Monday morning in Qatar?
Having finished as the top CRT on Sunday night and having closed the gap to the factory bikes.
Who do you see as the title favourites this year in MotoGP?
Lorenzo starts out with a slight advantage as the defending champion and you can see he has huge confidence. But it’s clear that Pedrosa, Márquez and Rossi are all strong so I think it will be close.
What is the new ART like?
It’s a bit more nimble than last year’s version and it handles sweeter in the fast corners. We still have some vibrations to sort out but I think the bike is a step forward in terms of performance and reliability. The chassis, which was the strong point of the ART 2012, has been improved even further.
What are the main differences compared to last year’s bike?
The 2013 ART turns better, which is important because our only advantage over the factory MotoGP bikes is in the chassis because we have less power. In that respect it is quite a lot better.
What are its strong points and where can it be improved?
Its handling and chassis flexibility are fantastic, which gives us a lot of stability in the middle of the corner. You could say that there is more room for error on this bike than the others. We also have wider parameters to work within, in terms of set-up. Aprilia have done everything we suggested last year to develop this bike. A little more power would be nice.
What’s your objective for 2013?
Repeat last year’s good results and finish as the top CRT rider again.
You are the current ‘CRT Champion’, how does it feel to be the title favourite this season?
Obviously we finished on top last year so in a way everybody will be looking at us this year but I am happy with that, it motivates me to fight even harder, stay at the front and defend everything we worked so hard for in 2012. This season there will be more competition so it should be a lot of fun.
What do you think about the new qualifying format?
In theory I like it, it looks like it will be good. Those riders who spend all day looking for a tow will struggle. I think it’s a good idea and from our point of view we can work in a more relaxed way. I also think that having shorter but more intense sessions will be far more interesting to watch for the fans.
What do you think about the new soft tyre compound that will be available to the CRTs?
It could be quite beneficial to us, not as much as I thought before I tested it but it has brought us closer to the factory prototypes. I think that anything the championship organisers try to make the performance of the bikes more similar is positive for the fans. At the end of the day racing is a show so I think it’s a good change.
Source: Aspar Media