Aleix Espargaro ready for giantkilling act in 2014 MotoGP opener
|Wednesday, March 19th 2014, 14:45 GMT|
Aleix Espargaro says he is ready to take on the MotoGP Factory riders for outright victories with Forward's Open class Yamaha.
The pace of Espargaro's bike has been one of the sensations of pre-season testing, as it regularly got among the works Hondas and Yamahas at the front of the field.
As an Open class runner, Forward gets 24 litres of fuel per race rather than 20, and can also use softer tyres.
Asked if he felt he could take on the likes of Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez for race wins, Espargaro replied: "This is the million dollar question.
"For sure it's going to be almost impossible. Really, really difficult.
"We know that over one lap with the soft tyre, we can be competitive. But in the test in Qatar we could only do three laps on the soft tyre so we'll race with the same tyre as the Factory riders.
"It won't be easy, but we did a long run here [in Qatar] and we were more competitive than we expected.
"If they destroy last year's record times, then we'll be far away.
"But if they're close to last year, we'll be in the same race."
Espargaro admitted he had been shocked to find himself among the frontrunners at first.
"On the first day in Malaysia when I arrived back at the hotel and I was just 0.3 seconds behind Marquez, it was strange," he recalled.
"But the bike is very, very competitive and my ambition is really high to stay close to them. It's going to be a really fun season."
Espargaro dominated the now discontinued CRT class with Aspar in 2012 and '13, but secured a release from his contract to move to Forward over the winter.
Although he admitted that the process of extricating himself from Aspar had affected his performances, he felt the decision was justified having seen his former employer still in the midfield with its Open class Hondas.
"The last part of the season was not good for me," said Espargaro.
"I crashed a lot because I was not focused on the races. To change teams was really difficult.
"But immediately when I arrived in Valencia [for the first test with Forward], everything was really, really good.
"If we see where my team from last year is and where we are now, we can say I chose the right way."