Aleix Espargaro has received his 2016-specification Suzuki GSX-RR that he secured a second MotoGP pole position with as a gift from the Japanese manufacturer.

The Spaniard – who currently competes with Aprilia’s factory operation in the premier class – revealed the news in a video blog on his personal YouTube channel, Espargaro revealing he had spent around “a year-and-a-half” negotiating with Suzuki about receiving the machine since the marque announced it would be leaving the championship early last year.  

Espargaro says he had previously “always asked” about acquiring the 2016-spec GSX-RR for his personal collection but was always “told no”, the one-time premier class race winner revealing he thought it was a “joke” when the brand got hold of him to tell him they would like to gift him the bike as a “thank you” for his early service within the squad.

“It’s not a dream, it’s real, Suzuki actually gave me the GSX-RR that I competed in the 2016 MotoGP World Championship with,” said a thrilled Espargaro. 

“I almost have to cry, it’s really a goose bumps moment. It’s incredible. Normally it is impossible to get a Japanese MotoGP machine to take home. 

“I’ve always asked about it and the answer has always been no. But when they retired from MotoGP they contacted me and said I could have the bike that started the project as a thank you. 

“I thought it was a joke but after a year and a half of paperwork and contracts the 2016 GSX-RR #41 is here.

“Thanks to Suzuki, to Sahara-san and Davide and Roberto Brivio for making it possible for me to have this bike. It’s a dream, I feel like a little kid.”

Suzuki gave Espargaro his first big chance as a factory rider in MotoGP for the manufacturer’s first season back in the series in 2015 alongside rookie Maverick Vinales, Espargaro having already completed five full campaigns within the championship by this point – including a stand-out ’15 term with the independent Forward Yamaha team that earned him a first pole as well as a first rostrum result.  

He managed a best result of fourth across his two years with Suzuki – at Motegi in ’16 – alongside a pole for the Catalan Grand Prix the same year, Espargaro replaced by Ducati refugee Andrea Iannone for ’17 having been outperformed in his second year by rising star Vinales.

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