The Aprilia rider struggled to finish ninth at Phillip Island on Sunday with an apparent electronics problem, leaving him 27 points adrift of the new championship leader Francesco Bagnaia only two races left.

Espargaro has been in contention for the title all season since taking his first MotoGP win in Argentina, but says there has “never been any” where the much-improved RS-GP is anywhere close to the Ducati’s level.

With six of the eight Ducatis finishing in the top 10 at Phillip Island, Espargaro admits it is “disappointing” as the bike is good enough for “everyone who rides it” to be strong.

“It’s funny because very recently, three or four months ago, everyone was saying that Aprilia was ‘the new Ferrari,'” Espargaro said.

“I knew the bike I had, I know it’s a good bike, I know we’ve improved it a lot. But it is by no means at the level of the best bike on the grid.

“It never happened before, but they made a lot of mistakes at the beginning of the year and now they paid for it.

“But Ducati’s results today are ridiculous. It doesn’t matter who’s riding the bike, they’re in the top six. It’s very frustrating.”

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

Photo: Gold and Goose / Images of motor sports

While Espargaro still has a mathematical chance of winning the championship, he admits during the high-speed series of races that Aprilia “proved that we are not together as a team” and “are not at the level to fight for the title”.

“It’s more difficult,” Espargaro said when asked what he thinks about his championship hopes now.

“I think in the last three races we proved that we are not together as a team.

“We are not at the level to fight for this title. We dropped many, many points because we ended up scoring eight to 10 points (12 points) in the last three races.

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“It’s funny if you want to fight for the title. This is the problem. It’s still possible, I’m really proud of my championship.

“There are two races left but Aleix and Aprilia are still in the title game.

“So I’m proud. But with the form of Pecco and Ducati, with one race advantage [in terms of points] It will be very difficult for me.”