Features 7 Sep 2023

Countdown: Aleix Espargaro's MotoGP wins

Detailing the Spaniard's four premier class victories so far.

After 200 starts, Aprilia Racing Team’s Aleix Espargaro scored his first world championship victory in Argentina last year, underlining his potential to stand on the top step. Following a breakout campaign in 2022, Espargaro has come of form lately in the 2023 season and has chalked another three race wins, most recently scoring a perfect points haul at Catalunya. In this Countdown, we chronologically reflect on Espargaro’s victories at the highest level as the MotoGP world championship moves to Misano this weekend.

Image: Supplied.

4. Termas top step breakthrough:
In what was a breakthrough performance for both Espargaro and the Aprilia Racing team in the modern era of MotoGP, the Spaniard completed a near-perfect weekend to be fastest in practice, qualifying and warm-up before converting that pace to a memorable race win – the first for himself and the RS-GP. The achievement didn’t come without a fight though, as Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) led for the majority of the race before being eclipsed by the Espargaro with five laps to go. Martin maintained within striking distance to finish 0.807s off the Aprilia rider, but that victory for Espargaro really paved the way for him to be a figure in the title fight for the majority of the 2022 season, ultimately finishing fourth in the championship standings with six podiums to his credit.

3. Besting Bagnaia during Silverstone thriller: 
Despite scoring his best championship result to date by far in the 2022 points standings, Espargaro only notched one top-10 result across the last five races of last season. The relative down-turn in results carried over to the opening races this year, where he went 9-15-DNF on Sundays to commence the current campaign. A podium at The Netherlands before the summer break was a positive sign of an uplift, and the Spaniard built on that at Silverstone to secure a much-needed race win in what was a thrilling encounter. A lead group of four riders were ultimately in contention as the last lap began, as Bagnaia led Friday pace-setter Espargaro, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Brad Binder and CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP Team’s Miguel Oliveira, the Portuguese rider braving the challenging, sprinkling conditions in the race’s final third to close in on the leaders. Ultimately a move around the outside in the run down to Maggot’s corner saw Espargaro take the lead, and the number 41 held the position until the end of the encounter to take a 0.215s victory ahead of Bagnaia, with Binder third and Oliveira fourth. Espargaro displayed bravery, composure in mixed conditions, and racecraft to land on the top to boost his 2023 points tally by a healthy 25 points.

Image: Supplied.

2. Sprinting to success in Barcelona: 
A commanding performance from Espargaro in Barcelona saw him become the sixth different winner so far in the newly introduced sprint races on Saturdays. Tensions were high as the grid got off onto their warm lap, with spots of rain beginning to threaten and wet bikes being prepared. Espargaro was third at the end of the first lap before taking over P2 from teammate Maverick Vianles into turn one, beginning his charge. With the odd drop of rain not affecting the track conditions, the number 41 Aprilia was soon locked on to Bagnaia and the duo began to pull away from the rest of the field. With six laps to go, it was game on in Barcelona as Espargaro attacked for the lead. And he took it, immediately putting the hammer down in an attempt to break away from the defending champion. Bagnaia had no answer as the Aprilia stretched out half a second in one lap, doing a Bagnaia – of late – on Bagnaia. Espargaro proved to be untouchable at the front as he went on to take the Sprint victory by just under two seconds, putting down a pace that not even the reigning world champion could match.

1. ‘The Captain’ leads Aprilia Catalan GP dominance:
Following his success in the sprint race on Saturday, ‘The Captain’ made it a perfect points haul at the Catalunya MotoGP round, leading a historic Aprilia Racing 1-2 on Sunday. Espargaro kept his nose clean in the dramatic start to the Catalan GP, with two major incidents in the first two turns bringing out the red flags. In the restart, Espargaro made his way past Martin on lap three for second as Vinales stretched out his advantage at the front throughout the middle part of the race. As the encounter wore on, Vinales was visibly struggling with front-end grip as Espargaro closed back in and made a decisive move for victory with four laps to go into turn one – his winning margin of victory ultimately just 0.377s ahead of his teammate. Following his success at the 11th round of the 2023 MotoGP Championship, Espargaro is fifth in the standings as action resumes this weekend at Misano, San Marino.