Espargaro has emerged as a surprise contender for the 2022 championship in the much-improved RS-GP after his maiden victory at the Argentine Grand Prix earlier this season.

After 12 races, he trails reigning world champion Quartararo by just 22 points and has been consistently on the podium this season.

The 2022 title fight features the healthy nature of the fight between the pair, with Quartarara now even the “idol” of Espargar’s son Max.

While Espargaro knows the pair are likely to have more clashes like at Assen in June, he sees no reason why his relationship with Quartararo will change away from the race track.

“He’s still my kid’s idol,” Espargaro said at the Red Bull Ring on Thursday ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix.

“I have said many times that Fabio is a good guy and many times from the press it seems that you don’t like that we are fighting for the World Cup and we have a good relationship.

“And I don’t really understand it.

“We’ve already clashed once in Assen and I’m sure we’ll clash again in the next races.

“Races are races. If we know how far we can go to respect each other, that’s racing.

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team, Fabio Quartarara, Yamaha Factory Racing, crash

Photo: Gold and Goose / Images of motor sports

“We both want to win, but Fabio is a very good guy.

“He lives near my house and always stops when he passes my house and I hope he can stop in the years to come to say hello. But what happens on the road stays on the road.”

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Quartarara echoed Espargaro’s comments, adding: “I think there’s a lot of respect when we both race.

“But he wants to win, I want to win. Everyone wants to win here. So I don’t think it changes anything.

“But we all have a clear goal – to win. So, at the end of the day, I think that’s the most important thing. But our relationship outside the races is the same, it will not change.”

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