It’s been a long time since Aleix Espargaro tasted victory; 6,496 days to be exact. The Spanish rider's last win came during the 2004 CEV 125cc championship. Once Espargaro moved into the Grand Prix paddock, a race victory eluded him for 283 races. During that time, number 41 snagged three podiums and three CRT (Claiming Rule Team) championships in a row.
Despite his success, Espargaro still couldn’t claim a win until his 200th MotoGP start at the 2022 Argentinian Grand Prix. Aprilia’s return to the Grand Prix premier class runs in lock- step with the Spanish rider. The Noale factory debuted in the MotoGP four-stroke era as a CRT supplier, but in 2015, the firm partnered with Gresini Racing to form a factory-supported independent team. After two productive years with the Team Suzuki Ecstar (2015-2016), Espargaro joined the Aprilia Gresini outfit in 2017.
In the first four years aboard the Aprilia RS-GP, Espargaro never ranked higher than 14th place in the MotoGP Rider’s Championship standings. However, Aprilia split with Gresini racing in 2021 and made a leap forward as a full-fledged factory team. Espargaro seized Aprilia’s first MotoGP podium and finished eighth in the overall standings by season’s end.
With Aprilia on the upswing, Espargaro and new teammate Maverick Vinales pushed the RS-GP even further during the pre-season tests. That hard work paid off during the first two races, with Espargaro finishing fourth in Qatar and ninth in Indonesia. The top Aprilia rider was in peak form at the Argentinian Grand Prix, though, topping Free Practice 2, Qualifying, and the pre-race Warm-Up session throughout the weekend.
Of course, those achievements only matter if you can secure a race win, and Espargaro had a fight on his hands since lights out. Pramac Ducati rider Jorge Martin blitz the start and won the holeshot with Espargaro slotting into second. After a few laps in, the Grand Prix became a two-horse race, with number 41 remaining on Martin’s tail.
Espargaro attempted two passes on the Pramac Ducati at turn 5 but failed both times. Fortunately, the third time was the charm, and the Aprilia man led the last four laps on his way to capturing the checkered flag.
“I’m extremely happy about this weekend in Argentina,” admitted Espargaro. “Honestly, the race was not easy. I expected it to be a bit easier as this morning I felt very strong. But I think I had a smart race, and finally, after this long period with Aprilia we achieved the victory and we are leading the championship. This is like a dream. We keep our feet on the ground, but I think we truly deserve this!”