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Switching to Honda as a test rider: Why Aleix Espargaro has made this decision

Brother Pol Espargaro failed at Honda – Aleix Espargaro sees the role as test rider as a good opportunity – He considers his job at Aprilia to be done

Aleix Espargaro will switch to Honda next year and be the second test rider alongside Stefan Bradl. “If you only have one test rider with the current test program, it’s a massive amount of work,” Honda Team Principal Alberto Puig told MotoGP.com. “That’s why we believe it’s a good opportunity. “

“We have known Aleix for a long time. I’m sure he will be very cooperative and happy to join us. He is still very fast and has a lot of experience. He has a good understanding of a MotoGP bike. We think he can help us.”

Aleix Espargaro is ending a long chapter in his career by retiring as a full-time rider at the end of the season. After eight years with Aprilia, he is turning his back on the Italian brand. He played a key role in making the RS-GP competitive.

“I don’t know why, but I have the feeling that my job at Aprilia is done,” says Aleix Espargaro. “I worked very hard to get them to the top. They have a very good test rider in Lorenzo Savadori.”

“HRC is not in a good phase, that’s clear. If I can help them get back to the top, that would be fantastic. I think I can help them a lot technically, but also bring the spirit of Aprilia.”

“It’s a really good opportunity for me and it’s a great honor to come to HRC. I have spoken to the Japanese top management. They believe in me and have confidence in me. That’s why I decided to do it. “

His younger brother Pol Espargaro rode for the Honda factory team in 2021 and 2022. They were two tough years. He was disappointed with the way the team worked and the mentality. It was completely different to what he had imagined.

So why did Aleix Espargaro choose Honda when he knew exactly what his brother had experienced? “When Pol went there, they had won the year before.” Because that was the start of the downward trend.

“The past three or four years were not easy for Honda mentally either, to understand what was happening. I think they have understood that they have to change,” believes Aleix Espargaro. “HRC won every weekend and now they are always out of the points. “

“This is also an emotional shock. Joan Mir is a world champion and now he can’t even finish races. It’s not just about the technical side, because I will also be a team player and work with the riders in the pits.”

“I want to create this atmosphere that I have built up here in eight years at Aprilia. They need that too.” It is also not ruled out that Aleix Espargaro will ride wildcards. However, there are no concrete plans for this yet

Riders also want new engineers

For Luca Marini, it is good news that the soon-to-be 35-year-old will be joining the Honda project. “It’s a good maneuver from HRC. But I also hope that some engineers will come,” said the Italian, expressing another wish.

“Honda has been changing since the start of the season. Although the results are always the same, things are getting better. You can feel the mood in the pits, because everyone is giving everything to get us into a better position,” said Marini, because: “It can’t go on like this. “

Takaaki Nakagami is also aware that Aleix Espargaro alone will not be able to work miracles. “I believe that he can help us. But in the end, the engineers have to make the difference and not the test rider,” says the Japanese rider.

This year, Johann Zarco came to Honda from Ducati with a lot of development experience. In the future, someone will come who knows the Aprilia inside out. It is not known whether Aleix Espargaro will ride the RC213V at the Valencia test at the end of November.

Zarco says: “The most important thing will be his initial feedback, because if you test the bike for longer, you get used to it. His statements should be similar to us, because although we are four different riders, our statements are very similar. “

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