The sixth place finish by Aleix Espargaró’s Aprilia behind Dani Pedrosa’s Honda at just over 7 seconds from the Yamaha ridden by the winner, Maverick Viñales in the Qatar Grand Prix is certainly an exciting result.
This is why the Corriere dello Sport dedicated an interview to the RS-GP designer today, engineer Romano Albesiano.
"There was no great revolution compared with the bike that was on the grid in 2016, but rather an evolution – the manager of the racing department from Noale told the Roman newspaper – We were already quite satisfied with our RS-GP. Obviously, the engine has a bit more power, torque and rpm now and the frame was re-centred to improve turning, in other words, the bike’s ability to follow the correct line when the rider releases the brakes and hasn’t yet opened up the throttle."
So the Aprilia does not suffer from that terrible understeering hat penalises, for example, the Ducati.
But what are Aprilia’s goals this year?
"The goal is to try to improve even more, in all areas. In particular, the RS-GP must improve in qualifying, on the flying lap - Albesiano reveals - That is what Aleix Espargaró complains about, that he is unable to make a big difference with the soft tyres. In fact, our pace is not a problem and we demonstrated that in Qatar."
But what has changed compared with the recent past? According to Albesiano, it was the riders’ requests that made the difference, or rather, the rider’s request.
“Right after the first tests, Aleix did not ask us for more power on the top end, but above all he asked for more torque at low rpms. A sign of a different way of riding."
In Qatar the Aprilia received approval for its fairing, but it hasn’t used it in the race yet. Can it be evolved?
"We can have a second one approved and, within certain limits, evolve the ‘internal’ characteristics of this one, but I don’t think we will ever do it because any aerodynamic solution is optimised to be the best compromise between downforce and drag."
In conclusion, he spoke about the current problems with Sam Lowes, the only rider coming from Moto2 who is disappointing a bit at the moment.
“His talent is unquestionable, although he is clearly having some difficulties right now - Albesiano admits - The extreme situations in Qatar, with frequent interruptions, did not help him and he went a bit haywire. Right now he is a little too tense. He just needs to settle down."