"I felt the need to speak for the two riders today. We're in trouble , and the race confirmed this moment." This is how Massimo Rivola, CEO for Aprilia Racing, began, introducing himself to journalists in place of Iannone and Espargarò after the Motegi GP, where the two riders from the Italian team were clearly in trouble. The Italian fell and the Spaniard passed under the checkered flag in 15th position.
"I decided to speak for the riders. I want Andrea and Aleix to be left alone because today we all expected a good result, but things went wrong because of two technical problems."
What problems did the two riders have in the race?
"Today we had good sensations, especially with Aleix ," said the former Ferrari team manager . "The tire choice was correct, and the start was also good. But after one lap, we noticed that Aleix didn't have the pace he had this morning during the warm up . That's when we realized there was a problem."
Iannone instead fell at lap 17. Technical bordem for him too?
"Andrea fell due to an engine problem," Rivola said. "The engine was new, so we should take it apart to understand what's wrong, in order to try to also use it for the next race."
Aprilia is experiencing a really difficult year. They're last in the constructors classification, and the team is third to last in the team rankings, just ahead of Avintia and Tech3. What is not going right this season?
"We've had a bit of a problem lately: in Buriram with the electronics and today the engine. Reliability is not at its best, but it's also true that we're at the end of the history of a particular engine ," Rivola said. "We have to finish the season in the best way possible. Aleix is often in the Q2, and not being able to express his potential hurts the team."
What can be the path to take to reach a solution?
"The fact that we're not expressing ourselves to the fullest is a combination of problems," said Rivola. "And I believe that the solution is a combination of improvements . We need to improve quality and processes, in order to have a more reliable and competitive product."
Can the situation be resolved, and will you try to restart in 2020?
Aprilia can do it, since it's part of a very strong group: the Piaggio group. We must earn their trust, and having problems when we can perform well is not the best way. We can't sleep well on this because we've made mistakes, and now we must make amends."
Audio recorded by Paolo Scalera