It's time for Aprilia to get serious, which, in MotoGP, means starting to put a spoke in the wheels of the Ducati-Honda-Yamaha trio that currently leads the way in the reigning class. No easy task, but slowly and surely the Noale team is getting there, having taken big steps forward in recent years.
The RS-GP has reached a good level but it's still not enough and the guys in Noale, headed up by Albesiano, have used the winter to refine the new bike.
“We believe we have cards to play - confirms the Italian engineer during an interview published in Italy's Corriere dello Sport - Don't expect a revolution but an evolution, we haven't turned anything upside down”.
Logical, considering the RS-GP is still a young bike with significant room for improvement. This doesn't meant that Aprilia has simply settled for making a few retouches though.
“Practically no piece is the same as its 2017 version - points out Albesiano - Engine, cooling system, frame, carbon swing-arm, even the aerodynamics have been revised ahead of a more radical change that we're working on. We've focused on all aspects, using the ideas we developed during 2017”.
We need to wait a few more days before we see it, at the Sepang tests in fact, taking place from 28 to 30 January. The aim, of course, is to start from the solid performance seen towards the end of 2017 and to improve from there.
To do so, Albesiano will play all his cards, even though it's often said that Aprilia has less than its rivals, 'less' referring to available budget.
“I don't know our rivals' budgets, but I'm happy with ours. We have a strong team, excellent technicians and the means to achieve our goals. Then of course it's only logical that everyone would like a bigger budget”.
And if you could steal something from them?
“I'd like their experience, we're in only our third year in MotoGP - he replies - I wouldn't take their components though, to reach the top you need to learn things the hard way, it's important to have time to grow ”.
Albesiano, as a technician, has another dream.
“A regulation that is more open with regard to certain aspects of production, like riding aids or the electronics applied. If this were to happen though, everything we've done to lower costs and level performance would be lost though. In the end, you have to find the right compromise between cost and research” he concludes.