CEO Roberto Colaninno placed maximum faith in Romano Albesiano: “I know he gives it his all, I don’t need to set goals for him.” The Italian engineer, head of Aprilia Racing, is ready to accept the challenge. In his arsenal he has a bike that only aesthetically looks the same as the 2017 RS-GP and Scott Redding, who came on board as reinforcement for the team alongside Aleix Espargaró.
“I think that we will be able to stay in the top 10 with both, aiming for the top 5 on some occasions” clarifies Albesiano.
So you are confident, but in your winter tests there were highs and lows…
“Because we really tested a lot of new material and so the riders had a different approach. They did not have a qualifying mentality, looking for the flying lap at all costs.”
So you were satisfied with this winter?
“Yes, I think we just need to do a final fine tuning of the bike and with that we should be able to drop those two or three tenths that we still need to shave off.”
Right now the bike that seems to be in the best shape is the Ducati. What do you envy about it?
“Ducati is undoubtedly a point of reference, but I think that we are lacking nothing. Besides experience – having raced in the seasons where the rules allowed 5 engines and 20 litres of fuel was an incredible training ground, but we weren’t there.”
What are the biggest changes on the 2018 RS-GP?
“In terms of the frame, the positioning of the masses is similar to last year’s, but it was nice to see that a few rivals moved in our direction. We tried to centre the masses even more. There is a completely new airbox and the same is true for the exhaust. Also, at the end of the month in Jerez we’ll test the carbon swingarm with the Test Team.”
And the new fairing?
“We tested it a few days ago in the wind tunnel. It will be a ‘triplane’ that we will then be able to remove parts from as allowed by the regulations. We’ll homologate it in Qatar.”
At Losail you’ll have the new engine for the first time. Isn’t that a risk?
“No, because it is not too different from the current one and a few parts have already been tested on the track. Plus, the results on the test bench give me peace of mind.”
Will it be the subject of evolutions during the season?
“The rules allow for that and we certainly want to keep growing, but it isn’t easy to progress in the current MotoGP.”
Let’s talk about something else new: Scott Redding…
“With Scott the team is more balanced. He is only 25 years old, but he already has a lot of experience in MotoGP with various bikes. His indications are useful to understand the characteristics of rival bikes. Plus, he’s fast. His times are closer to Aleix’s than you can tell from the test standings.”
KTM has confirmed Tech3 as a satellite team. Are you looking for a partner too?
“A satellite team is not fundamental. There are pros and cons. We are a small structure and having 2 extra bikes on the track would put a lot of stress on us. On the other hand, we would be able to have more data available and it would be an interesting operation from a financial point of view as well.”
Is that more of a no than a yes?
“If it happens it will only be on our terms. We won’t give our bikes away and we won’t go looking for clients. Can having only two bikes be interpreted as a position of inferiority? The important thing is to win, not how many bikes you have.”
If you’re not looking for a new team, are you looking around for riders?
“I’ll be honest – I don’t like how this market is so early because I think that a rider committed to a team needs to be left in peace for more time.”
An Italian on an Italian bike doesn’t seem attractive to you?
“I don’t look so much as the nationality as at the speed (laughing). Right now, I am happy with the riders we have. Aleix has an incredible heart and right wrist.”
At the end of the year the contract with team Gresini is also up…
“We are working out the details and I think we are both leaning toward renewal. Our relationship works well.”