Aleix Espargaro and Scott Redding got their first taste of the new Aprilia RS-GP at the Sepang test, with both riders pleased with developments.
The test provided valuable opportunity for Espargaro to refine the bike to his optimal setup from the 2017 bike. Scott Redding worked on larger setup changes as he continues to adapt to his new bike and team.
Espargaro happy with improvements
Aleix Espargaro is happy with the developments that the team made over the winter. He is able to be more aggressive on the new Aprilia which suits his riding style. The Spanish rider also praised the new traction control that Aprilia brought to Malaysia. He also revealed that there will be an engine improvement in time for the final test in Qatar.
There were also chassis improvements made based on Espargaro’s suggestions, which have been taken on board. The upgraded chassis improved cornering ability on the new bike.
The Spanish rider completed 139 laps over the three days with a best time of 1:59.925, putting him 14th overall on the timesheets. He was 1.132s off Lorenzo’s record lap time.
We can say that we got off on the right foot in 2018. I like the new bike. The guys at Aprilia did a great job, especially improving the chassis architecture, following my indications. I am able to be more aggressive on the brakes and my position in the saddle also fits better with my riding style. Today I also tried a new traction control version that I found to be very good and on which we will continue to work. We’ll take the next step with the evolution of the engine that will arrive for the Qatar tests. Constant development is essential because the competition this year will be even more heated.” say that the improvements are clear. Especially in terms of the chassis architecture, Aprilia has developed the RS-GP following my requests and cornering performance has benefited from that. We still have room to improve, for example in acceleration, but the base on which we will begin the season will be even further evolved, so I cannot help but to be optimistic.
Redding looking for optimal setup
Scott Redding continued his familiarisation with his new bike in Malaysia. The Englishman had begun with the settings that Espargaro uses, however these did not suit him. He spent time finding a good base setting in order to work from in the future. He suffered from chattering on the bike as he made significant changes in order to be comfortable on the bike. Having joined the team this year from Pramac Ducati, it will take time to adjust.
Whilst he was down the timing sheets in 23rd place, he wasn’t focussing on top speed.
Speaking afterwards, Redding said:
To be honest, I’m rather satisfied with how the tests ended. We need time because simply moving the settings from the 2017 bike to the new one did not work for me, whereas Aleix was comfortable straight away. I had some chattering and grip problems that led us to do some experimenting in order to find the right direction for my needs and my riding style. Of course, when you make significant changes, it’s hard to find your top speed, but in any case I was able to improve day by day. These were fundamental tests for my knowledge of the bike and the relationship with the new team. The mechanics are beginning to understand my characteristics and what I like in terms of settings.