After two decades traveling the world with the traveling spectacle of the MotoGP World Championship, Aleix Espargaró savored the honey of victory for the first time this year at the Argentine GP.
It was only the third round of the event, but he already felt that he was getting the opportunity of a lifetime thanks to the magnificent work of the Aprilia official team.
"It's realistic," he assured EL PAÍS about the fight for the title.
"It's a dream, but I think we've at least earned the right to dream," said the 33-year-old.
Half a year later, on the other side of the world, Espargaró is still dreaming, although the math is complicated.
At the Thai GP (10:00 a.m., DAZN) he will start 13th after struggling with the set-up of the bike, aware that he cannot let Pecco Bagnaia and Fabio Quartararo escape – third and fourth in the standings this Saturday – in the fight for the title.
“We are not competitive here, but it is not the end of the world”, he commented, always smiling and positive.
He is 25 points behind the leader and reigning world champion, a good colleague with whom he shares a street in the mountains of Andorra.
Despite feeling the bike as an extension of his and finishing all the races in the contest, two big mistakes, the human factor, have taken away some points that are now vital.
The latest came a week ago at the Japanese GP, when his team forgot to switch off the fuel economy map on the starting grid.
He started sixth, but his beloved machine was not revving up.
That setting, hence the drama, cannot be changed by the pilot.
The desperation on the warm-up lap gave way to the rush to enter the pit lane and get the hell out, but lastly, with the second bike, which also did not have the same configuration or the same tires chosen for the race.
The comeback operation was insufficient, and from coming out ahead of his two rivals for the title with options to cut points he went on to finish 16th, his first race without scoring points all year.
“Head held high, anyone can make a mistake,” Aleix told his team at a fellowship dinner he hosted in Tokyo after the race.
Without the ruling, he saw himself with options to win, and if he had achieved it he would have been the leader in the table with four races to go.
“25 points is not that many.
Today, on a bad day you stay out of the top 10″, he reflected before walking away from the pole fight in Buriram, the first of his four finals.
From the garage, he saw how Marc Márquez (8th) and Miguel Oliveira (12th) took away the option of going on to the second qualifying round.
He tossed his gloves off in a rage and bolted to the back to yell at the sky away from the cameras.
The record pole went to the Ducati satellite of rookie Marco Bezzecchi, who stole the purse from a competitive Jorge Martín.
In a new display of dominance,
The bad day in Thailand and the failure of his technicians in Japan have not been the only factors that have kept him from his goal.
In the Catalunya GP, right next to his hometown, it was he who left a good harvest of points.
He was running second when he got confused and thought he had already crossed the finish line.
He celebrated like crazy, but a couple of corners later he realized that the rest of the drivers were beginning to overtake him, giving full throttle.
He was able to recover one of the lost positions, but from second place he fell to fifth.
The origin of the mistake was the tower of the Circuit de Catalunya.
Unlike the rest of the locations, the one in Montmeló marks the penultimate lap as L1 —lap 1— and the last one as L0 —lap 0—.
In the others, the last turn is L1.
"I haven't remembered, really.
It tastes very bad to me.
This can't happen
Without these two failures, Aleix would have appeared at the event in Thailand as the leader of the contest, or very close in the worst case.
He now he is a race away.
Il Capitano, as he is nicknamed at the Noale factory, is the visible face of the resurrection of the Italians, who with him last year achieved the first podium since his return to the World Championship in 2015. This year, six podiums and a victory later , Espargaró and Aprilia still believe in miracles.
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