– Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews



The first tests of the 2017 MotoGP season just ended on the Malaysian track of Sepang. In the able hands of Aleix Espargarò, Aprilia introduced the 2017 version of the RS-GP. Sam Lowes, a rookie in the category, continued work familiarising himself with the Italian MotoGP bike.

Despite the fluctuating weather conditions, the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini accomplished a lot of work in the garage and the 125 and 140 laps done respectively by Aleix and Sam are a testament to this.

Espargarò had good sensations, immediately liking the new version of the RS-GP. In spite of the fact that the priority was to complete a packed schedule of testing to be done, from tyre tests to starting strategies, the Spanish rider did his best lap at 2’00.108, which places him in thirteenth place at the end of the day, just over 7 tenths of a second behind the leader. With two more test sessions scheduled, in Australia and Qatar, Aleix is optimistic about the race début, given the good responses achieved both in terms of times and his technical feeling with the new bike.

His consistency and the final result are an encouraging sign of Sam Lowes’ progress. Astride the 2016 RS-GP, the English rookie continued his apprenticeship. Not too many changes for him, but a lot of laps done in an effort to increase his confidence with a technical package that is decidedly different than the one he used last year. At the end of the three days, Sam expressed satisfaction with the progress made on the various fronts, from riding position to braking. This is progress that the times confirm: an improvement of almost two seconds between the first and third day and the session concluded with a nice 2’01.341.

ALEIX ESPARGARO’“I am satisfied with these tests. I liked the 2017 bike and it has some improvements compared with the one I tested in Valencia and Jerez. The new engine specification is an important step, although from that standpoint we still need to gain something with respect to the fastest bikes, and the frame has maintained its strong points. The guys at Aprilia have worked very well and we need to continue on this path for the next tests. In the afternoon of the third day I crashed during race simulation, but until that point my pace was good – very close to the best. We obviously need to improve in many areas, especially in terms of power distribution and stability in acceleration, but overall our situation is positive.”

SAM LOWES“Over the three days we reduced the gap behind the leaders significantly and that is important. We are working in the right direction. Everything is new for me, so I learn something new every lap! Among other things, I also did a race simulation, discovering how mentally and physically demanding it is to ride a MotoGP bike here at Sepang, but I am pleased with how it went. These tests were fundamental for me. We did not focus on our final position because that is certainly not our goal. We still have six days of testing before the race in Qatar and I think that if we maintain these levels of growth and concentration we will be ready.”

ROMANO ALBESIANO – APRILIA RACING MANAGER“From a technical point of view, I could not have asked for better in these tests, although we still have a lot of work to do before Qatar. The 2017 RS-GP confirmed the progress made compared with last year, both in terms of the chassis architecture and the engine, and we know how difficult it is to improve in a demanding category like MotoGP. The work done by our two riders obviously followed very different paths, with equally positive results. Aleix, with his experience and speed, began development on the new bike and he has already demonstrated an excellent level in terms of performance, whereas Sam focused on improving his feeling and the riding style that these bikes demand. Even the team, which is comprised of a few new members, demonstrated great harmony straight away with all the mechanisms that will be fundamental throughout the season.”

FAUSTO GRESINI – TEAM MANAGER“In this first round of tests with the new 2017 RS-GP, Aleix moved forward with a good programme, testing various changes in terms of chassis architecture and the engine, making good progress. We know that there is still work to be done, but we can feel satisfied so far. It was definitely important to be able to tackle a fast and demanding track like Sepang straight away. Espargarò gave us some good feedback and he appreciated the work Aprilia did over the winter. He is very enthusiastic and that will certainly lead to improvement. For his part, Sam managed to consistently lower his times. He is starting to settle into this new category and he is acquiring the necessary habits. It was a positive first test. We are not far from the leaders and we are happy with the work done so far.”

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