APRILIA IMPROVES IN THE MOTOGP TESTS IN QATAR
ALBESIANO: “ALEIX’S SPEED AND THE QUALITY OF OUR PROJECT ARE CONFIRMED. WE ARE CONTINUING TO GROW”
The three days of tests on the Losail track have come to an end, the last tests before the Grand Prix Motorcycle Racing championship begins 26 March on the same track.
The new 2017 Aprilia RS-GP confirmed the growth trend seen in the first two tests at Sepang and Phillip Island. Aleix Espargarò got even closer to the leaders, particularly on the second day of testing when he finished in fifth place, just 66 hundredths from the leader. The Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Spaniard had what it took today to do even better, but two crashes slowed him down, especially the first which came as Aleix was doing his bests lap, already improved in T1 and his best partial yet in T2. The second crash even forced him to change bikes, removing any chance of lowering his time. Aleix, who also tested the new fairing Aprilia brought in two runs, focused on his race pace, confirming the good feelings he has had since the 2017 bike’s début even in this situation. This means that his best time is still 1’55.121, done on Saturday, which earns him twelfth place in the three-day standings.
Sam Lowes, on the other hand, continued his progress with a time of 1’56.167. Also slowed by two crashes today, he finished the tests having done better than the day before. Yet another encouraging sign along the English rider’s path to his MotoGP début.
“Even if today was not the best of the three days, I am still happy with our work. At the beginning I started with a good feeling, managing to be fast even on used tyres. Maybe it was partially because of these good sensations that I pushed a bit too hard with the soft tyre, crashing while I was doing a good lap. The bike was repaired quickly, but a second crash forced me to use the other RS-GP with a less advanced engine and electronics that were not perfectly dialled in. For this reason I was unable to improve in the second part of the session, but I see the glass as half full. We have improved our pace and our level is definitely better than our standings on the time sheets show.”
“It may seem strange, but just at the end of this last day, when I crashed, we found the right setup for the 2017 RS-GP to increase my confidence. We had some particular tests. We have a lot of things to try and sometimes that keeps us from focusing on pure performance. This is all part of my growth. Right now my sensations in the saddle are more important than lap times and I learned a lot even from the less positive situations. I am optimistic about the race. The work we did on the front of the bike gave me the confidence I was lacking and now the points zone, which is the goal I’ve set for the first race, appears to be well without our reach. We’ll set up our first weekend based on what we found today – a nice starting base.”
ROMANO ALBESIANO – APRILIA RACING MANAGER
“We are finishing the tests well aware that we have a bike with very good chassis architecture, with excellent capacity going into corners, turning and grip when leaned over. We need to improve the traction when the bike is almost upright and engine performance that has improved but which, on tracks like this one, counts for a lot. We confirmed the progress our project is making here. Today Aleix was held up by two crashes but he had the potential to lap in the mid to high 54 range and to keep up with the leaders. He was fast on a track that is certainly not our favourite and he was efficient in terms of race pace, since he showed that he can lap easily at mid to high 55. Sam also did very well, despite the fact that he fell a couple of times too. He improved consistently over the three days, showing that he has the potential to do well. Now we have two weeks to finalize our work and turn up at the first race with goals that are within reach for us, well aware that we have room to improve throughout the season.”
FAUSTO GRESINI – TEAM MANAGER
“I am very satisfied with these tests. We showed that we have good potential. There is definitely still work to be done, but we are not far off. From the end of 2016 to now, we have taken tangible steps forward and that is a sign that the development over the winter break was important. We also need to consider the way our competitors have improved, compared to whom we were still able to reduce the gap and this is very significant. At a crucial moment for our project, everyone put forth their best effort, from Aprilia to the team. Now we are anxiously awaiting the first race where we will definitely be ready.”