Espargaro made history by winning Aprilia’s first-ever premier class race of the MotoGP era, but despite being the heavy favorite the Spaniard had to work harder than expected.
A good launch wasn’t enough to keep the lead as Martin rocketed forward at the first corner, but after studying where the Pramac rider was fast, the second part of the race felt more like a scene from jaws.
With the music, Espargaro started to get closer to Martin and thus to take the lead of the race. A first overtake came with eight laps to go, but Espargaro went wide which put Martin back in the lead.
Two laps later and he attempted the same move at turn five, again wide.
But with his third attempt being the most decisive of all, Espargaro finally took the lead as a maiden MotoGP victory loomed. Espargaro made a few mistakes in the lead, but none were enough to cost him first place.
On a day when the pressure to win was incredibly high, Espargaro lived up to expectations perfectly with a bike he now claims is the “best of my career”.
Speaking after the win, Espargaro added: “I’m extremely happy because from Qatar I feel, even in pre-season, that I have the best bike I’ve ever had in my career.
“Obviously in pre-season it’s very difficult to judge whether this bike would allow me to fight for a top ten, a top five or win, but I was very close to the fastest guys during the tests of pre-season.
“Also, in Qatar I felt strong and step by step we showed a lot of potential. Yesterday we proved that we were the fastest, and today in the race it was not luck. or a wet race and now we’re in the lead.
“I’m extremely happy because I feel like this championship is one of the most difficult ever because of the level. For me, obviously I’m extremely happy to win the race, but for me personally nothing is wrong. has really changed.
“I am a very lucky person and my job is my passion, I have a dream family and I have everything a man could dream of.
“Honestly, a win doesn’t change that much in my life. But for everyone at Aprilia, it’s a huge step.”
While Espargaro finally got the better of Martin, his good friend looked ready to fight back during the closing laps, which Espargaro was left tired of as the former Moto3 world champion was a ‘killer when the lights go out’.
Espargaro said: “I know Jorge is a killer. I know on Sunday he doesn’t need to have the pace all weekend to be fast. When the lights go out he’s a killer , and it was not easy for me to follow him.
“I made a few mistakes; I played a lot with the electronics, engine braking and TC (traction control) to save the tyre, but honestly he was brave because he had the hardest part which was to lead most of the race and show everyone the pace.
“During my career I have always tried to respect my opponents, trying to pass cleanly and we showed today that you can pass without needing to touch each other.
“But even if you touch like we did in the last race, that’s good and that’s racing.”
On Martin’s side, the Pramac driver got a much-needed podium, and the one who finally kicked off his 2022 season after two DNFs.
“I’m super happy to finally finish a race because this year has been very difficult for me so far,” said Martin. “I was super fast, super consistent and in the end we ended the weekend in a very good position.
“I think it was one of the best weekends of my career in MotoGP. I worked a lot. In the race I put everything I had on the track. The conditions were really hot and I knew that Aleix was a little faster but I tried to hold him back.
“I was a bit better in braking, but he was amazing on other parts of the track like T1, T2. Super happy for him because he’s a really good friend of mine.”