In the first part of the interview with Aleix Espargaro, the Aprilia Gresini rider talked about life and training in Andorra, finally getting back on a motorcycle in Andorra and at Barcelona, the plans for testing, and the financial impact of the pandemic for him and his sponsors.
In the second part, the eldest of the two racing Espargaro brothers talks about what happened to teammate Andrea Iannone, and who might replace the Italian at Aprilia, about rumors of brother Pol leaving KTM to head to Repsol, and about the strategy for coping with a short season featuring a lot of back-to-back races. Finally, Aleix Espargaro talks about how much he is looking forward to 2021, even more than 2020.
Q: You actually don't know who is going to be your teammate, either this season or next season. It's a very awkward situation.
AE: The situation for Aprilia right now is not easy, not easy at all. Andrea Iannone is a very, very fast rider, everybody knows that, but his future doesn't look very bright because now WADA are pushing even more [WADA has appealed the reduction of Iannone's ban by the FIM CDI]. So the situation for Massimo Rivola, for Aprilia is not easy. I would say that almost all top riders have already decided about their future; to take a talented guy coming from Moto2 would not be easy for the first year; to take an old guy from MotoGP with experience but with a better bike, it's not going to be easy. The situation is very difficult.
Q: Did you talk with Iannone?
AE: Not in the last few weeks, I talked with him two or three months ago when the lockdown started. We talked a little bit, but he didn't text me and I did not text him. We spoke after what happened in Qatar and he told me that I misunderstood, that he was not attacking me, and I said OK and that we will talk when we see one another on the track and we did not talk more than that.
Q: There is a history of riders considered to be “bad boys” in MotoGP. Aprilia is working with Max Biaggi, who was always put into that category, and Iannone is also someone seen as a bad boy. Rivola said that he feels WADA are making an example of Iannone, do you think his image has anything to do with that?
AE: That's very difficult to say. I mean, he tested positive in the first sample, he tested positive in the second sample. He said it came from the meat and he is the only one who knows what really happened there, but for WADA, he is positive, and failed both tests. I don't think it has anything to do with the bad boy image or not.
Two samples tested positive, so I understand the situation, I understand his point of view but I also understand WADA. I think the four years WADA is asking now is far too much, but I also think that what he wants, to be completely acquitted after both samples were positive, is not good nor positive for the sport. So it's a very difficult situation. It's the first time this is happening in our sport and it's very strange.
If this happened in cycling for example everything was more clear, if you do that, this happens. But in MotoGP it's the first time, and it's important to remember that all the riders were pushing for this, we were pushing for more tests, we were pushing for more testing, we were pushing to be in the Adams Pool system, and now we are in the pool system. So if now they act and they ban a rider who did some wrong things, this is what we were looking for.
Q: You have a lot of cycling friends. Did you talk to them about it? Does this influence how you see it?
AE: The issue comes up and I spoke with them, but it's not a subject that they like to talk about, as they have a very bad reputation, and it looks like in the last year they are trying to change and they are cleaning the sport up. What they said to me is what I said before, if someone tested positive twice, in cycling its 24 months, boom! There is no discussion. MotoGP is not cycling, but we were pushing Dorna and the FIM to have a similar system to avoid cheaters. So if now we have this, the least we can do is to listen to them.
Q: Do you know who you want next to you this and next season?
AE: What I want for the future is that the young talented riders of Moto2 and Moto3 really consider to come to Aprilia. This is very important for me. Because right now, at the moment, the guys fighting for Moto2 are looking to go to satellite Ducati, or satellite Yamaha, looking to those factory teams. So my objective is to prove that Aprilia is also a very competitive bike, and that talented young guys can come and join us.
I know that for Aprilia to sign a young guy right now might not be the best scenario, as we still need to improve the bike. So maybe the best thing for the next two years is to take a rider with information, coming from another brand and with know-how from Honda or know-how from Ducati.
Everybody is asking me about Crutchlow, he would be good because Cal is a very fast guy. A bit crazy but I am also a bit crazy, so Cal would make a very competitive team together with me. Also Danilo [Petrucci], coming from Ducati, winning a race last year so both of them are good riders. I would also really like that Bradley [Smith] would get the chance to improve a little bit by racing more and he can also be my teammate next year, you never know.
Q: Another rider and contract issue is your brother. Pol must have consulted with you about Repsol Honda and KTM?
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