The Aprilia was expected to be in contention for victory coming to Aragon having taken some of the Italian marque’s best results of a season in previous years.
But two crashes on Friday and a difficult FP3 forced Espargaro into Q1, though he managed to sail through that session into Q2 and qualify a solid fourth.
Overtaking KTM’s Brad Binder on the last lap to take his first podium since the Italian GP, Espargaro is now just 17 points off championship leader Fabio Quartararo – who crashed out on lap one after a collision with Marc Marquez.
Asked whether he was disappointed not to fight for the win given his expectations, Espargaro said: “No, because I did a big mistake on Friday. I crashed twice, I lost a lot of track time, I lost a lot of confidence.
“Saturday morning, I was very slow, I was not able to put the bike on top 10.
“But session by session I improved a little bit, I did a solid qualifying, but I arrived a bit late in the race.
“Pecco [Bagnaia] and Enea [Bastianini] were really riding in a really high level this weekend.
“You just need to see the lap times they did in the qualifying, also the pace in the race.
“So, I thought we would be able to be a bit closer. But from how the weekend started, I’m happy.”
Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
Espargaro says he started to rebuild his confidence in FP3 and is aware that his end result is “super good” for his championship hopes.
“The expectations were very, very high before arriving to Aragon because I knew it was one of the best tracks of the last part of the championship,” he added.
“So, maybe I started a little bit too hot and I crashed twice on Friday. So, I lost the confidence completely.
“From FP3 on I started to build up the confidence. I did a good qualifying, a solid fourth place, and then in the race I didn’t have the pace to follow Enea and Pecco.
“I knew it, they had something else during the weekend. But in the end, third place is super good for the championship, so I’m happy to be back on the podium.”