Aleix Espargaro: '19 Aprilia feels more like '17 bike
Aleix Espargaro says the 2019 Aprilia felt “similar” to the 2017 RS-GP during the Sepang MotoGP pre-season test, and that he feels “more normal” on the new bike.
Espargaro achieved seven top 10 finishes in a strong 2017 campaign, but could manage just three last year on an RS-GP he felt had lost the positive points of its predecessor.
The Spaniard requested the use of the 2017 bike late last season, but was denied, with Aprilia eventually bringing a hybrid of the 2017/18 machine for the remaining races.
Speaking at Sepang, Espargaro admitted he felt “more normal” on the bike, while also praising the job done in improving the electronics under acceleration.
“A positive is we confirmed this bike is similar to the 2017 bike in terms of stability over long distance in the race. This grip is not bad.
“The thing we improved most in this test is my position on the bike. With the '19 bike I feel that I'm let's say, more normal, much better than last season.
“We also work a lot on the electronics to find better acceleration out of the slow corners, because this was one of the issues last season.
“And with the electronics we make a small step, so I'm satisfied.”
Espargaro was one of the first riders to complete a full race simulation during the test, and managed to lap “3.5 seconds quicker than Marquez's victory last October” during his effort on day two.
However, on the final day he focused fully on improving the RS-GP's performance over a single lap having struggled in qualifying last season, and was left "satisfied" after posting a 1:59.022s to go seventh overall.
“Basically, after five days we tried many configurations of the '19 bike and we mainly focused on race distance, long distance,” Espargaro, who made Q2 just five times last year, added.
“We rode with full tank almost all the day to try and set up the bike, and I will say a solid good race simulation.
“[On Friday] the plan in the morning was to try to improve one single lap with less weight in the fuel tank, because during the season we struggled with problems we didn't have with a full tank.
“So this morning we changed a little bit the balance of the bike with no weight in the tank, also the electronics and we try our best and after four days I'm satisfied about the laptime we did."