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Lewis Duncan

Espargaro: Aprilia “is not good” in Argentina, despite MotoGP practice sweep

Rio Hondo was the scene of Aprilia’s and Espargaro’s maiden MotoGP win 12 months ago, with both picking up where they left off on Friday this year.

After Maverick Vinales was fastest in FP1 ahead of Espargaro, the latter led the second Aprilia 1-2 of the day in FP2 by 0.162s.

Asked why the RS-GP is so good around Rio Honda, however, Espargaro couldn’t explain it as he doesn’t feel like the bike is actually good at the circuit.

“I don’t know, I don’t understand,” Espargaro said.

“I mean, the bike is not good here, sincerely. But I think it’s less bad than the other bikes.

“But the bike is not good, in Portimao I felt 10 times better. The bike was grippy, turning, good on the brakes.

“Here it’s like you are on ice all the time, sliding, sliding. It’s crazy. But it looks like the other bikes are even worse.”

Both Aprilia riders showed good race pace on Friday afternoon in the hour-long second practice and go into the rest of the weekend looking like strong favourites to repeat their 2022 success in Argentina.

Espargaro, knowing this ahead of the weekend, admits he treated things cautiously as he was wary of repeating a crash at Silverstone last year that “lost me a big opportunity for the title”.

“I had good confidence before I arrived here, but you always have some doubts because you never know,” Espargaro added.

“It’s another season, another bike, the level of the field is super high. So, happy to reconfirm the bike goes well.

“I started a little bit careful this morning to not override. I did a big mistake last season in Silverstone when I fell and lost a big opportunity of the title in Silverstone.

“So, this is what I did today: I tried to be a little bit more relaxed in the morning and in the afternoon I pushed a bit more. The pace was very strong on used tyres and also on the lap time.”

Maverick Vinales, Aprilia Racing Team (Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images)

With both Aprilia riders looking evening matched, Vinales says the competition between the pair will only boost them – like it did at Suzuki in 2015 and 2016.

“Okay, we have to push each other and that's good for Aprilia,” Vinales said.

“In 2015, when we were at Suzuki it was the same, we hit it off on the track, but once off the circuit we always have a good relationship.

“You have to be smart. The secret at Aprilia is the harmony that exists within the team, which must remain the same. That there is rivalry is good, so we will go faster.”

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