march 16, 2018 - Aprilia Racing

The Aprilia RS-GP machines do well on their début in the first practice sessions in Qatar - Espargaró and Redding get good sensations in view of tomorrow's decisive sessions

The engines have finally roared to life for the long-awaited 2018 MotoGP season. And among the many reasons for high interest in the new world championship is also Aprilia, called on to confirm the growth demonstrated in the final part of last season.

Aleix Espargaró and Scott Redding rode the fledgling 2018 RS-GP in the official opening sessions. Their sensations were clearly positive. Both of the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini riders improved significantly between the first and second Friday sessions. In FP2, Aleix even made an appearance in the top end of the standings, then continuing to work in view of the race, getting good sensations especially in the comparative tests between the different tyre solutions for Sunday. He finished with the 12th best time of 1'55.236, just 87 hundredths from the leader and 38 hundredths behind the top 6.

Redding made clear progress in the second session, although continuing to work, as advisable for him, on the settings, both for tomorrow's sessions which will decide the starting order and with Sunday's race in mind, finishing with a time of 1'55.718.

I am very happy with the day. After a winter of ups and downs, the initial feedback here in Qatar was good. The evolution of the engine, which has not been revolutionised, proved to work well all around. It lets me ride with a style very close to my needs, whereas before I had to open up the throttle with the bike still very much leaned over. As for the race configuration, we are rather close to the leaders. We lost a few positions in the final attempt with a soft tyre. In the time attack, even pushing to the limit, we are still struggling to get as much out of the tyre compared to the other riders. We'll work especially on this in the technical debriefing today, because even though our pace is promising, we still cannot sacrifice qualifying.

The sessions today once again confirmed how close the times are this year. It really takes very little to make a big difference. I am satisfied with our first day. The evolved engine works well, but overall I feel like we can still improve quite a bit. Compared to the tests, I have less feeling with the front, even testing different compounds, and I feel the dips on the track more, so much that I risked locking up the front a couple of times. If I can increase my confidence in braking, I'm sure that we can take a step forward.