Aleix Espargaro: Beating Randy de Puniet a huge achievement
|By Sam Tremayne||Tuesday, December 18th 2012, 10:11 GMT|
Aleix Espargaro insists beating Aspar team-mate Randy de Puniet was just as rewarding as becoming the first winner of MotoGP's new CRT class.
While the 23-year-old Spaniard had just 21 MotoGP races to draw upon before 2012, de Puniet entered his seventh straight year in the top flight at the start of this season.
The 31-year-old Frenchman also had two podiums to his credit: the first with Kawasaki in 2007 and the second two years later with LCR Honda.
While Aspar was the class of the newly-established CRT field, its two riders were never separated by more than 10 points until the final three rounds, when Espargaro managed to edge away and seal overall victory in the class.
"I am happy because we achieved the objective we set for ourselves at the start of last season [and] I am particularly satisfied to have beaten my team-mate on the same bike," Espargaro said.
"I knew that whoever got to grips with the new bikes the soonest would dominate.
"As soon as I knew that my team-mate was Randy I realised it was going to be even more difficult. He's a top rider and I knew he wouldn't make life easy for me."
Espargaro said the second round at Jerez, where he finished 12th after de Puniet retired with a mechanical issue, was crucial to his self-belief.
"At Jerez I didn't deserve to win in the way I won. My team-mate was forced to retire but that gave me a boost in confidence, seeing myself up there.
"From that race I started to change the way I was thinking and started to believe that we had to keep working even harder because anything was possible.
"Randy and I came into the final stages of the season with very little between us. I knew that any mistake or lack of concentration could cost me points or a position in the championship.
"As the year progressed I grew in confidence and from that point the objective became to win as many as I could."
Aspar has already announced that de Puniet and Espargaro will stay on for 2013.
Asked about his future hopes, Espargaro added: "2014 will be an important year with a lot of changes so we just have to make sure we stay on our toes in 2013, put together another strong season and be prepared for the next one."