Espargaro made a solid start to his fifth season as an Aprilia rider in the Qatar double-header, qualifying inside the top 10 for both races and scoring seventh and 10th-place finishes.

This is in stark contrast to team-mate Lorenzo Savadori, whose lack of MotoGP experience has meant he qualified last for both races and achieved a best finish of 19th in the opening rounds.

Savadori was chosen over double MotoGP podium finisher Bradley Smith for the second Aprilia seat, while a test for Andrea Dovizioso at Jerez this week has fuelled rumours of the veteran Italian returning to race action in 2021 with Aprilia.

Though Dovizioso’s manager batted away such rumours, his test of the RS-GP has been seen as a clear sign of Aprilia’s improvement over the winter after the ex-Ducati rider shunned a race contract with the Italian marque for 2021 originally.

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When asked if a stronger team-mate than Savadori would boost Aprilia’s development potential, Espargaro felt the work he has done in this regard has been “enough”.

“I think that I proved I’m a top-level rider and what I say to the engineers is enough to improve the bike.

“Actually, I think with my comments last year, everybody with the engineers in Noale did a very, very good job on the new bike.

“They know what we are missing to fight for the podium, not to be in top 10.

“So, they know perfectly, they are working in Noale and we are hoping to receive new stuff around Mugello race.

“So, I don’t think a strong team-mate will change anything on this side.”

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Espargaro says he is “fully confident” he has a package capable of fighting for podiums when MotoGP returns to Europe starting with next weekend’s Portuguese GP.

“The acceleration of the bike is sincerely [an] unbelievable the step we did from last season,” he added following the Doha GP.

“I didn’t lose ground in the middle of the track, I think we’re in a very similar level to our competitors.

“But on the straight it’s unbelievable the difference. We lose, especially in fifth and sixth gear, close to 20km/h. So, it’s very difficult in a track like this to fight.

“But I think Portimao, Jerez we’re going to do very, very good races, I’m sure we’re going to fight for top six.

“So, I’m disappointed because I think we lost good opportunities here in Qatar, but anyway we are eighth in the championship, not far, so I can’t wait for Portimao and Jerez.”

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