A brilliant ride in Sunday’s Aragon MotoGP from Espargaro resulted in him narrowly getting the better of Brad Binder for what was his first podium finish since Mugello.
The Aprilia rider endured difficult races at Silverstone, the Red Bull Ring and Misano, but looked back to his best, even though he was unable to challenge the likes of Francesco Bagnaia and Enea Bastianini.
“I never lost faith,” said Espargaro when referring to his title chances. “I always believed, even on the most difficult weekends like Silverstone and Austria.
“I tried to not finish 15th, or crash, not 10th, always in the top five or six. This is what makes me proud of the championship I’m doing.
“I have 200 points because on bad days I was able to get really good results, so now I’m just trying to enjoy it and do the same in the next races.
“I know it’s not gonna be easy because now we’re going to completely different circuits far from Europe and these two guys next to me are very, very strong… but let’s play!”
Bastianini, Bagnaia form ‘not easy to achieve’, says Espargaro
In the last two races Bastianini and Bagnaia have been a clear step ahead of the chasing pack.
Last lap duels took place in both Misano and Aragon, with the pair splitting the victories.
Espargaro was over six second down on Bastianini at the end of Sunday’s race, and gave kudos to what the two Italians are achieving.
“It’s not easy what they are doing and what they are achieving,” added Espargaro. “It’s not just a single thing, it’s not that they just have the best bike, it’s a mix and a package.
“Pecco and Enea are riding at a really high level, I would say the best levels of their careers, and they have a very strong bike with strong teams and a lot of information.
“This is MotoGP, Ducati, Enea and Pecco are doing a great job and the results are there. But we’re doing a good job because I’m just seven points from Pecco so it means with Aprilia we’re doing a super job and I’m extremely proud and happy.”
Is Ducati the strongest manufacturer in MotoGP?
Having eight bikes and eight talented riders will always give Ducati a chance to gain a step on its competition, but Ducati’s best results in 2022 have largely been because of two riders.
Bastianini has four wins this season which is two less than Bagnaia, however, both numbers are in the top two.
With Bastianini also a title contender, Bagnaia believes the level they are performing at is helping to push Ducati to new heights.
“For me, we are eight riders and we’re trying every day to raise the level,” added Bagnaia. “Step by step we’re growing together and we’re always faster. Enea for sure is motivated like me to win races and be in front, and we’re pushing each other because I know if he’s fast, I can be.
“It’s like a motivational thing – and we have to use that to improve ourselves.”
Yamaha and Aprilia have struggled to contend with Ducati in qualifying all season, while that’s also become a trend in race situations of late.