The first event of the 2018 MotoGP season ended with a positive outcome for the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini. The new RS-GP, on the track for the first time in Sepang, satisfied both riders who were able to complete the entire testing schedule without any problems, increasing their feeling on the Italian V4 lap after lap. The margin for improvement is obviously all unexplored territory, but the impressions at the end of the tests tell the story of development in line with the information gathered throughout last season.
For Aleix, this was a return to Malaysia a full year later, since he had to skip the race here in October due to the injury he suffered to his hand in Australia. The Spanish rider, who had approved the 2018 RS-GP straight away, dedicated all of his efforts to weaning the new bike on the second and third day. The feedback was positive both in terms of pace, a strong point of the RS-GP, but also and especially in terms of speed with a new tyre. The spark was lacking in the time attack, but the goals for this test were different and they were more than achieved.
Scott Redding worked a lot to find an optimum feeling with the new bike after chattering problems that arose on the second day. The various solutions tested began to show initial benefits and the information collected will now be analysed for the next tests in order to optimise the technical package the British rider will have.
In terms of statistics, over the three days in Malaysia, Aleix Espargaró turned a total of 139 laps, the best of which in 1'59.925. 158 laps with a best time of 2'00.812 for teammate Scott Redding.
"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."
"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."