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Why Espargaro is suddenly tempted by MotoGP test rider role

by Simon Patterson
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Aprilia racer Aleix Espargaro has admitted that he’s once again mulling over the possibility of stepping away from full-time MotoGP competition itself.

But there's an extra consideration in play now - this being the attractive idea of moving into a less time-demanding test rider role and leading the development of a team’s new 850cc machine for 2027.

Espargaro, who will turn 35 this summer, has been the oldest full-time rider on the grid since the retirement of Andrea Dovizioso in late 2022.

And despite Aprilia sounding like it would be more than happy to retain the services of its 'captain' going forwards - especially now that its tentative pursuit of Fabio Quartararo has come up short - Espargaro says he is still nowhere near making up his mind.

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia, MotoGP

“Hopefully Aprilia will offer a new job to me,” Espargaro told the media ahead of this weekend’s Grand Prix of the Americas, "but this isn’t the important thing.

“The important thing is if I want to stay or not, and I haven’t really decided yet. I want to wait a little while longer, at least until Mugello [at the end of May], to see how I perform, and then I’ll decide.

“I’m having fun this year, really, but I want to fight every race for the top five or it will be the last one.

“I still have to understand which is the best future for me. I still don’t think it will be racing in another place than Aprilia, if I am racing full-time. I want to perform.

"This is my obsession right now, to finish on the podium every weekend - and then I will decide.”

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia, MotoGP

Espargaro has gone back and forth over the past year and a bit on just how long he would want to remain a premier-class rider for, but he hadn't really broached the possibility of switching to a more part-time role.

However, he's now acknowledged the enhanced status being given to factory test teams in modern MotoGP is making the idea more appealing.

In doing so, he has also dropped a hint that, while in terms of a full-time ride he would only look to continue with Aprilia, as far as the test rider market goes there could be other potential suitors.

"Maybe I decide to stop and do some wildcards as a test rider. Maybe I will decide to fully stop. I need to decide, but still I really haven’t.

“It is a new job, a new role that didn’t exist five years ago. Now we understand how important it is.

Michele Pirro, Ducati, MotoGP

"Ducati and [Michele] Pirro changed the game six years ago, and now we see with Dani [Pedrosa] and [brother] Pol [Espargaro] in KTM that Yamaha and Honda need to step up their game with their test teams, because they are not on the same level as the Italians or the KTM test team.

“It’s a good opportunity for me and this is why I’m thinking a lot about it.

"It’s something that I really love. I’ve had a lot of fun the past six or seven years with Aprilia, and I think we’ve done a really good job. I’ve learned a lot of things, and that’s also a possibility for the future."

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