Photos: 2015 MotoGP Preview - Aleix Espargaro

A look at Suzuki's and Espargaro's progress during pre-season testing

2015 MotoGP preview - Aleix Espargaro
After struggling to regain fitness after an injury, Aleix Espargaro managed only the 14th-quickest time on the first day of testing at the first Sepang test. "But this should not be a big problem as we have plenty of time before the first race in Qatar. Regarding the bike, I like it a lot and it is working really well; plus we also have good grip. Of course we need a lot more testing to obtain the best set-up, but for the moment we also know that our main target is to improve the power."
2015 MotoGP preview - Aleix Espargaro
Day 2 went better for Espargaro at Sepang, as he dropped almost a second off his lap time and moved up to 10th in the standings. "We have a good set-up with the geometry of the bike and I’m getting more-used to being faster and more competitive with my new bike. We still need to work more with TC and rear-grip as these are the main issues right now, but I think that the time we did today was quite competitive.”
2015 MotoGP preview - Aleix Espargaro
While Espargaro further improved his lap time on day 3 of the first Sepang test, he remained 10th in the standings but quite upbeat about the result. "From the first test I think that our bike is not so-far-off the factory Yamaha and Ducati, so we have to be proud of that - although we still have to continue really hard. We finished the test 1.6-seconds away from the factory Honda, so we need to be closer at the next test."
2015 MotoGP preview - Aleix Espargaro
The second Sepang test opened with less-than-perfect conditions, but Aleix Espargaro showed Suzuki had done its homework between the two tests, as he posted the fourth-quickest time of the first day. The upgrades tested included a redesigned fairing that was developed at Suzuki's wind tunnel in Japan, although "It didn't give the results we were expecting so we will further-refine its shape," said Team Manager Davide Brivio.
2015 MotoGP preview - Aleix Espargaro
While Espargaro dropped to ninth-quickest on day 2 of the second Sepang test, he was just half a second from the quickest time of the day set by leader Marc Marquez. "In the second part of the day we struggled a little with hotter conditions and we encountered some issue with the grip on the back so we need to work more on this. With my riding style I open the throttle early and when the tarmac gets hot we lose grip, so we need to fix it," said Espargaro.
2015 MotoGP preview - Aleix Espargaro
Focusing on setup options and testing new parts on the third day of the second Sepang test, Espargaro remained at ninth in the standings but was satisfied with the progress. “The bike is very improved, we worked a lot on electronic set-up and to find a better configuration of the traction control, which gave good results and let us cut one second off our time."
2015 MotoGP preview - Aleix Espargaro
The team and Espargaro were upbeat heading into the final test at Qatar. According to Davide Brivio, "In Losail we will test the final version of the software, which will be used in early races, and we will work mainly to get ready for opening GP of Qatar. Since we are a young team we don’t have many previous data to rely on, so this is the chance for us to gather information that we will use in the race at the end of the month.”
2015 MotoGP preview - Aleix Espargaro
Espargaro focused on finalizing traction control settings for optimum grip during the second day of the Qatar test, working with the hard-compound tire during long runs as well as working toward a quick lap time on the softer tire. At the end of the day he set the fourth-fastest time with a best lap of 1:55.698, just 0.433-seconds away from leader Andrea Iannone.
2015 MotoGP preview - Aleix Espargaro
The second day at Qatar saw 14 riders within one second of the quickest lap time set by Andrea Dovizioso, with Espargaro in 12th spot on the time sheets and unable to improve his time of the first day. "“Today I struggled to find a good feeling with the rear tyre. We tested different steps in electronics but we weren’t as effective as we expected. For tomorrow we will try some different configurations of the bike’s geometry, set-up and also electronics."
2015 MotoGP preview - Aleix Espargaro
Unfortunately rain prevented any further testing at Qatar, but Espargaro remained confident about the progress made with the Suzuki GSX-RR and his chances at the opening round. "We will make some final testing during the first day here in Qatar, but we are already pretty confident we can perform well. We already know that we have a good chassis and we made good steps forward in electronics; further technical improvements will come but now it’s time to find a good pace with the package that we have, which is already positive. I really can’t wait to get into the races!”

In preparation for the start of the 2015 MotoGP season, Sport Rider is taking a closer look at a few of the top riders from pre-season testing, plus a MotoGP rookie following in Casey Stoner’s footsteps.

Today we look at the run up to the 2015 season for Aleix Espargaro, who won the Open class championship last year and is now part of Suzuki's return to full-time MotoGP competition. Scroll through the gallery above to find out how testing went for Espargaro and the GSX-RR, and what the Spaniard thinks of his chances this year.

Tomorrow we will check out Valentino Rossi's pre-season testing program and the Italian's hopes for another world championship.

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