Espargaro was once again in stunning form throughout the Italian MotoGP, despite problems overtaking resurfacing for the Aprilia rider.
After patiently waiting to make his move, Espargaro took advantage of both Mooney VR46 Ducati riders Marco Bezzecchi and Luca Marini struggling with grip in order to claim his fourth consecutive P3 finish.
The problem for Espargaro is that he lost 15 laps behind the two Italians who had their best races as MotoGP riders – Marini finished fifth in Austria last season, however, his sixth place result in Mugello was a result of pure pace, not extreme conditions.
“I’m satisfied with the result,” claimed Espargaro. “I was dreaming of taking the victory but I couldn’t because I lost a lot of time with the VR46 guys.
“They did a very good job because they are not that experienced and they made no mistakes.
“I was expecting more mistakes but they didn’t make any. It was difficult for me to overtake them and I lost 15 laps with them.
“When I was able to overtake them it was too late. But it’s been another very good weekend for everybody in Aprilia and in the race I gave it everything I had.”
Are Espargaro and Aprilia a match made in heaven?
While team-mate Maverick Vinales remains without a top five finish on an Aprilia bike that’s considered to be one of the best on the grid, Espargaro has one win and another four podiums to his name in just eight races.
Yes, Espargaro has had years developing the Aprilia and is therefore much more familiar with its RS-GP machine than Vinales, however, the Spaniard is riding as well as any rider on the grid.
Espargaro believes he’s a major reason as to why Aprilia are in the middle of fighting for the 2022 world championship, although he’s unsure if that would be the case on another machine.
“I don’t think Aprilia can perform on this level without me, but I also have a lot of doubts that I can perform like that with another machine,” said the 32 year-old.
“This is not about yourself, this is about the team. It looks like an individual sport but it is not. We could see in many factories this year that it’s about one rider or the other, so this is about a mix of things.
“We have a very good feeling inside the garage and we are doing a great job. It’s still early in the championship but yes, my goal is to fight for the title and yes, I believe I can fight for this title until the end. “
New engine not the reason Espargaro failed to fight for Mugello MotoGP victory
As part of Aprilia’s upgrades package in Mugello, Espargaro was using a new engine for the first time since the pre-season.
And although it didn’t change where he finished compared to Portimao, Jerez or Le Mans, Espargaro said gains were made relative to top speed: “I have to say that the engine wasn’t an excuse. The bike was fast and I didn’ t lose any ground on the draft [slipstream].
“I didn’t lose any ground to the Ducati’s on the straight but I wasn’t brilliant on the overtakes.
“For example, in the first part of the race I was in front of Fabio [Quartararo] but he was able to overtake me and the Ducati guys easier. But it was not because of the engine, the engine was very fast.”