It was only three days of testing, but expectation to see Dovizioso for the first time on the Aprilia was high, as was the hope that their paths will cross again in the future. For the moment, two more days of testing are planned at Mugello in May, but the more you have the more you want and both Andrea and the Noale manufacturer are hungry…
The Jerez appointment was also the first time for Romano Albesiano, the technical director of Aprilia, to work together with Andrea. Did he also feel excited about it?
"Engineers are always strange animals - replied Albesiano with a laugh - It was certainly a long-awaited test, there was lots of interest in a rider with this sort of experience and with a reputation for being very analytical, something that was confirmed. It was a pleasure from a technical point of view to work with him ”.
Were you worried that he might reject the RS-GP?
“We came from a positive start to the season, so I would have been surprised by a total rejection. And that was not the case”.
What was it like working for three days with Dovizioso?
“Very nice, he is a fan of motorcycles and of work done with method. Of course, doing this type of test away from competitive pressure leaves you even more freedom to enjoy it. It was valid for us and I hope for him too. It was great, all very positive”.
"Dovizioso has an overview of how a motorcycle works"
Is there something that surprised you in what he said to you?
“Yes, for example some comments on the gearbox that I did not expect, we are talking about technical details. What I liked so much is his vision: normally a rider tells you if a certain thing is better or worse, how it behaves, while with Andrea you understand that all his years of experience have led him to understand how the motorcycle works. It was very interesting".
How important were these three days of testing?
“Andrea was very scrupulous in finding a perfect position on the bike. When we looked at photos of him on other bikes, we notice that he has a slightly different position from our setting. So we worked during the night, the old way by adapting the various pieces. The mechanics did miracles of Italian craftsmanship, a little nip and tuck (laughs). In the end we got close to a seating position that goes in the right direction, but there is still some work to be done. "
"We are working to make Dovizioso feel more comfortable on the Aprilia at Mugello"
Will there be a more RS-GP more tailor-made for Dovizioso at Mugello?
“We had already made a lot of pieces for him for Jerez, but obviously it's still not enough. For sure we are working, because if the rider does not feel comfortable on the bike he cannot give his best, he must have a natural and not forced position. Irrespective of this, which is a long but generally easy process, everything else was very positive, as was his opinion on the basic components of the bike ”.
Doing all this work for just two tests would be a shame ...
“Quantity is important, but quality is more important. I don't know what will happen, I think nobody knows: it is a journey in stages and we will see where it takes us. In any case it is very useful for us and nice ”.
Was it also useful for everyone's morale to be given a vote of confidence by an experienced rider from outside the project?
“More than just for morale, it is interesting to have information on how the other bikes work, otherwise you take your own path which can be right or wrong. Aleix has been with us for some time, so he no longer has different benchmarks and Lorenzo has never had them, so having a rider of Dovizioso’s calibre who makes you understand where you are is important ”.
"The Aprilia is different from the Ducati, with Dovizioso's indications we could expand its range of use"
Is it true that Dovizioso said the Aprilia is an easy bike?
"I can confirm that."
So, despite its Italian origins, is the RS-GP more similar to Japanese bikes like the Yamaha and Suzuki than the Ducati?
“In some ways it is like that and Andrea noticed it. Today our bike is set up to go fast in a certain way which is quite different from the bike he rode before. This is the interesting part: there are so many ways to make a bike go fast and they are linked to the rider's riding style, so it is he who dictates the line. The adjustments can be very different and, probably, following Dovizioso's instructions we will be able to think about expanding the range of use of our bike ”.
"At Jerez I found a rider who wanted to get to know a new bike, not a tester"
Did you find a rider or a test rider in the Jerez test?
"In my opinion, Andrea's attitude was mainly a rider who wanted to get to know a new bike, I don't know if this makes him a test rider. It's a bit early to say ".
How much would Aprilia need a tester right now?
“It would be ideal to be able to define Dovizioso as our test rider, we can say that he was for a test, even if it was more focused on making him comfortable on the bike rather than trying new things. If this were to continue, it would certainly be an extraordinary added value ”.
Will you try something new at Mugello?
"Something a bit more yes".
"A satellite team is useful for speeding up development"
What is your development program for this year?
"There is a lot of stuff. Clearly we cannot do anything about aerodynamics, except in small areas which are important. We are trying to put the greatest effort into the engine right now, in the last two years we have made just as many quite major changes and it took time to sort everything out. We have increased our firepower a lot to speed up the development, we will have to be good at putting it all on the track because sometimes there are things that remain idle because there is no time to complete the test cycle. I cannot say what we are working on, but we are doing it in many areas, especially on the engine ”.
Is this the right time to have a satellite team from a technical point of view?
“It could be, also because, as we have a greater possibility of having new ideas, having the opportunity to experiment with them would further speed up our growth process. After that, when you go to a track, you have four riders and their information… it's simply double what it is now (laughs) ”.
"We are working on engine performance, but there will be a lot of new features"
How satisfied are you with this start of the season?
"In the last race in Qatar, perhaps we should have deserved something more in terms of the final position, but apart from that the level of competitiveness we have had so far has been really good. Now we have to be good at maintaining it, even in difficult weather conditions. I am very satisfied because the rider is the first to be satisfied, and I think we have taken a positive direction. This is an absurd championship, in which if you make a stupid mistake you find yourself 18th, it's crazy, they are all very strong, even the rookies, but we have our cards to play and we have shown this ”.
What has the RS-GP improved the most in 2021 and what is still missing?
"Engine power delivery has improved, the bike is more stable and more effective when braking, we have taken another step forward in electronics. Where something is still missing compared to another V4 (laughs) is in pure performance. We made two big changes on the engine and now we can devote ourselves to performance development, I think we will make something up already during this season ”.