2014 MotoGP: Is Aleix Espargaro Hunting a Suzuki Ride in 2015?

Aleix Espargaro 6 photos
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The title question may be a little rhetorical, as pretty much any rider in the MotoGP is eyeing a factory seat, but Aleix Espargaro is definitely one of the guys with good chances of actually getting one, in case things work out well.
Having finished in the 11th position in 2013, the elder of the Espargaro brothers is definitely faring better this year aboard his NGM Forward Racing bike. He decided to part with Aspar and swap the bike provided by Aprilia Racing Team (ART) with one powered by Yamaha’s M1 2013 engine. So far it looks like the new bike fits Espargaro like a glove, with the Spaniard posting better lap times than the last year and adding more to the MotoGP show. A CRT (now Open Class) champion last year, Aleix Espargaro is currently 7th in the world standing, 5 points adrift his younger brother Pol who is riding Cal Crutchlow’s former Yamaha Tech3 bike. Still, Aleix is thinking about more…

With Suzuki’s comeback to the MotoGP grid in 2015 and the Hamamatsu team boss Davide Brivio openly speaking about looking for the best riders he can afford, it’s easy to figure out that the two factory seats are probably the most coveted ones for the next season. That is, because the Honda and Yamaha ones are rather dealt for, or so it seems, even though we’re still 3 races short of half-season.

While Marc Marquez was confirmed for two more years aboard the Repsol Honda he rode to become the youngest MotoGP World Champion last year, and Suzuki not willing to pay the 8 million Euro salary Dani Pedrosa asked for, we can presume that Nakamoto-San has his roster done at least for 2015.

Over at Yamaha, Rossi is showing a much improved form this year, and looks like ready for two more years in the Team Blue pit, while his team mate and 2013 runner-up Jorge Lorenzo seems like finally getting a tad more comfortable aboard the 2014 YZR-M1 and starts to made the day harder for the 6-time winner Marquez. Though not confirmed officially, we might very well see Yamaha retaining the services of both riders.

Ducati may have a problem with his riders. I am using “may” because Ducati’s last years have been dominated by various degrees of uncertainty: a bike which was continuously developed but which refused to steer like its siblings, Crutchlow replacing Nicky Hayden but failing to finish races due to mechanical problems, and the two the best riders of the moment, Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone possibly willing to trade in their red leathers for the Suzuki ones.

Team boss Gigi Dall’Igna expressly declared that Borgo Panigale would gladly have Dovi on the bike for at least one more season, if not even two, but a decision is expected to be made by the rider later in the season. Ducati remains a team dominated by the lack of sustained success during the last three seasons, and the appeal of a ride aboard its bikes can be at time questionable.

This leaves Suzuki as a “fresh” option. At least the new 4 in-line XRH-1 bike seems to be getting more and more competitive, being already able to fight the Open class machines and even showing its teeth at the satellite motorcycles, though still kind of shy. Aleix Espargaro is one of the “best of the rest” and he knows it. He openly admits that there’s always an open door at Aspar thanks to his friendship with team owner Jorge Martinez, but is not shy to add that “more doors will be open with the arrival of Suzuki. They will want to sign the best riders and that will come down to them looking at the final championship standings and seeing who is up there. So my aim is to finish within the top six in the championship in order to have my options.”

Aleix has one more occasion to get in the desired sixth position this weekend, as MotoGP action descends on the Montmelo circuit near Barcelona for the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya.
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