The work done by the Noale Racing Department during the 2017 season has come together in the consistent growth of the young RS-GP project which, characterised by the Italian livery designed by Aldo Drudi, has been revamped and advanced in every area for the 2018 season.
The final part of the season was a turning point for Aprilia. The sixth place earned by Aleix Espargaró at Aragón with a gap of less than six-seconds behind the winner, followed immediately by excellent performance in Japan (fourth in qualifying) and Australia (best time at the end of the first day of practice) highlighted clear progress, halted by the unfortunate injury Espargaró suffered as he was battling in the lead.
“Last year we rode some very good races and only a few mistakes compromised our final position in the standings. I have great confidence for 2018. The team has worked well and the new RS-GP is growing in the right direction. All of our rivals have improved a lot. MotoGP is a top level championship, but I am certain that we will be close to the top. I am a positive person. I prepared well for this new season and I believe in the direction we are going.”
For the 2018 season, Aprilia is keen to pick up from where it left off, with a bike that maintains the same construction philosophy as its forerunner, but refined and advanced in every aspect and with an extremely motivated pair of riders, aiming for consistency and the top spots in the rankings. Alongside Aleix Espargaró will be Scott Redding. The English rider, born in 1993, is coming into his fifth MotoGP season, the first on a factory team.
“This is my first year as a factory rider and I must say that I have had very positive sensations so far. Having a team behind me that supports me and works with me to improve the bike gives me great motivation. We have managed to improve consistently with every outing, also experimenting with some solutions that were a gamble, but always with specific goals. It is difficult for me to make predictions right now. I am still adapting to the RS-GP and at the same time we have undertaken development of the 2018 model. In any case, I am positive. Thanks to the last tests in Qatar, we have taken another step forward, narrowing the gap behind the leaders, so I am confident as we approach the first race.”
A brand new frame led to a complete repositioning of the mass and therefore a new weight distribution, perhaps one of the clearest aspects but one that is fundamentally important in defining the dynamic performance of modern MotoGP bikes.
The airbox and exhaust are also new, called on to optimise the performance of the exclusive narrow V4, which was also upgraded. Also in the chassis architecture, some big changes were made with a new front suspension and the carbon swingarm which will be further developed during the season.
Confirmation of the project’s technical maturity came during the pre-season tests, during which Aleix and Scott passed the 2018 version of the RS-GP with flying colours, and they are now highly motivated to do well in the premier class of the 2018 World Championship season that will begin 18 March on the Losail track in Qatar.
“The 2018 RS-GP is an in-depth optimisation and evolution of the concepts we had on the track last year. The frame is radically new, as is the airbox, the cooling system and the aerodynamics. The new project’s first positive step was the popularity with the riders during the winter tests. They both noticed straight away how much the bike has grown. This reaction is never a given when you introduce such significant changes, but it makes us optimistic for this new MotoGP season. I expect this to be an extremely demanding season. The level has been raised even farther in terms of both the bikes and the riders on the grid. On our part, we have all our papers in order to be contenders.”
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