The 32-year-old won his first MotoGP race this season in Argentina after racing full-time in the class since 2012, after making his debut in 2010.
Since Argentina’s win, Espargaro has scored five more podiums and is just 17 points off championship leader Fabio Quartararo after finishing third last weekend in Aragon.
With just five races left in 2022 starting with this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, Espargaro admitted he was more nervous earlier in the season when he was consistently on the podium as it became clear he was a title contender.
But since then, he says he’s become “more relaxed” and just enjoying the occasion.
“I have to say that in the middle of the season when I started to finish on the podium in every race, I started to feel a little pressure because I realized that I had several chances to fight for this title until the end,” Espargaro said on Thursday in Motegi.
“But now I’m a bit more relaxed. I’m enjoying this year more with my family when I’m not racing, when I’m racing.
“Every moment of this year I will never forget in my life.
“So, this is why I feel relaxed. I know I will have my chances, so it’s just trying to do the same as I did from Qatar: make no mistakes, enjoy as much as possible and relax.”
Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
This weekend’s Japanese GP represents MotoGP’s first visit to the country since the start of the COVID pandemic.
This makes Espargaro one of only nine riders on the current full-time grid to have raced at Motegi on more than one occasion in the MotoGP class – with title rivals Quartararo and Bagnaia only competing at the track in 2019.
Despite this, Espargaro doesn’t think his experience at Motegi will count for how much MotoGP has changed since 2019.
“I don’t think it counts too much,” Espargaro said of his experience.
“I watched the 2019 race yesterday and Fabio did a very good race, always just a second from Marc in his rookie year – which is hard to do. And Pecco also raced once.
“But we’ve all ridden here in the smaller classes. So, we know the track.
“The bikes have changed a lot from 2019, we have new items of bikes, we have a new carcass on Michelin tires. So, I think it will be new for everyone.”