In 2016 the Ecstar Suzuki and Maverick Vinales dynamic was a revelation. What about Aprilia with Aleix Espargaro for the coming season?
The RS-GP has improved and the Spaniard faces every single practice session as if it was a race, finishing the Phillip Island test just eight-tenths down on the unbeatable Vinales and four tenths from a virtual podium.
Waiting for the final test session in Qatar before the opening race, Aprilia looks forward and we sat down with the Aprilia Racing boss Romano Albesiano to know more about the development work done during the winter in preparation of the 2017 season where Aprilia aims at making the difference:
What kind of work has been with the RS-GP?
“The RS-GP is an evolution of the 2016 bike. We worked on all aspects starting from changing the position of the engine inside the chassis. It’s a small change but this means that we had to re-project the bike. We worked on the electronics and the engine. At the moment we have two engine specs that we will test again in Qatar in order to decide the final configuration. The new engine has more power and more torque. We have a new lighter chassis but we have kept the same stiffness. This grants us driveability and reliability.”
What about the aerodynamics?
“The new regulations about the winglets has obliged all the manufacturers to invest a lot of time and money to look for alternative solutions. We all went in a similar direction although with different solutions. The trend is to build the wings inside a traditional fairing. The idea is to optimise flows of air on a surface that has the shape of the wings.”
How was the test of the new fairing in Phillip Island?
“The test was very positive and we will test the new fairing again in Qatar. This season we will see two fairings. We are planning to use one configuration on tracks like Phillip Island where it’s important to have neutral aerodynamics and another one with integrated wings on circuits like Jerez, Austin, Motegi or Red Bull Ring in Austria, where it’s important to limit wheelie.”
Are you satisfied of the work done?
“I think we have a well balanced package.”
Is progress also down to the riders?
“The riders are crucial in our sport and they are doing a great job. Espargaro is experienced and he surprised us fwith his incredible determination. He tackles every single practice session as if it was a race and we can see the results. Last year we missed a bit this approach. Sam is also improving. We believe a lot in his talent. He is fast but he needs to control more his energies and use them in a positive way.”
Which are your expectations for the 2017 season?
“From what we have seen in the test, this year we will have many riders close to each other. This means that a small mistake can cost a lot of positions. But this can be also an opportunity. We aim at finishing in the top five with Aleix. He has all the potential to score good results. With Sam we expect to finish in the top ten after some races of adaptation. He needs to grow but has a very good potential. We saw it also in the test. In three days he was able to recover from a difficult start.”
Can we expect a podium finish?
“Nothing is impossible, but I think it’s a premature dream for the 2017 season. Anyway we will continue the development work throughout the season. We have no limitation regarding the engine development and we have more test days.”
At the KTM launch, CStefan Pierer said that with KTM joining MotoGP, now there is more equity in the MSMA commission with three European manufacturers vs 3 Japanese manufacturers. He said that this will help to limit Honda’s supremacy. Do you agree?
“I haven’t seen so far a coalition among the European manufacturers. In the meetings of the MSMA Commission there is an open confrontation. Then, in case of important decisions, it’s true that the Japanese manufacturers tend to team up.”
A look at the WorldSBK championship. What kind of season do you expect for the Aprilia riders?
“Both machine and riders are competitive so I expect an important progress throughout the season. Eugene Laverty returns in WorldSBK from MotoGP, and he needs a time of the adaptation. We believe a lot in Savadori. We are giving our full support”.