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Espargaro wants Aprilia to match MotoGP podium targets for new deal

Aleix Espargaro says Aprilia has to improve its MotoGP bike to keep him beyond the end of his current contract

Espargaro, who finished the Qatar season opener 19th, joined Aprilia for the 2017 season from Suzuki on a deal that runs until the end of this season.

Several riders have already firmed up their post-2018 plans, but Espargaro said his negotiations with Aprilia are still in the early stages.

Espargaro admitted he was "very frustrated" in the off-season before the introduction of Aprilia's new engine, but said the upgraded motor was something that "helps you want to continue".

"I'm not Valentino [Rossi] and I know that," said Espargaro. "I think I have gained respect for developing motorcycles.

"I am not a rider who is in the pool to win the championship, but I work more than anyone and I need that to be valued.

"I would like to continue at Aprilia but for now we are still far away [from the front]."

He added: "I am not 22 years old and I won't be always ahead.

"I think I'm in the best moment of my career, I'm looking ahead to be fighting for podiums, but the bike has to go along with this."

Espargaro was challenging for the top 10 in Qatar until the final lap, when fuel troubles dropped him out of the points.

"On lap four unfortunately the [dashboard] light on the bike started to advise me that we were running out of fuel," he said.

"I decide to switch to map three, the, let's say, slowest map to try to consume the minimum possible. But even this was not enough.

"I give everything in the race. I was very slow, trying to save fuel and trying to not rev the bike, but even like this I was very competitive.

"And I caught Iannone and Miller to fight for ninth place, but [then] the bike had the fuel problem.

"If I was able to use the map I used in qualifying, I'm pretty sure I was able to fight for top six, because the pace we did in the second part of the race, as always in the race, was very competitive."

While Espargaro left Qatar "super confident" about Aprilia's prospects, team-mate Scott Redding - who struggled for pace and was 20th on his debut for the team - stressed the manufacturer had to understand its bike's rear grip issues.

"This weekend was just zero grip, and with this bike when you have no grip in the rear you cannot stop it," Redding said.

"You can pull the lever if your life depends on it, but you're not going to stop, it's not going to stop.

"Standing on the rear brake, you cannot put any more pressure on it, it's maxed out, it ain't going to stop.

"Aleix has the same comment. We have no rear grip whatsoever. We need to understand why, I don't know why."

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