20 October 2017
As soon as he got off his RS-GP at the end of the first practice sessions on Phillip Island, Aleix Espargaró talked about a historic moment and, beyond his enthusiasm, this statement is not an exaggeration. It’s only Friday, but in MotoGP history, a bike from Noale has never flown so high. The Spanish rider finished the first day of the Australian GP in the lead, thanks to a fantastic lap in FP2 (1’29.225) and the final result once again confirms the significant progress of the Italian project.
For the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini, this is a first and one to be proud of, but thoughts are already on tomorrow’s sessions and the race on Sunday. In fact, Aleix acknowledges the need to improve race pace, a fundamental element in a particularly long race (27 laps) and characterised by some bizarre weather to say the least.
Even today, the strong wind and varying temperatures were the protagonists of the day, causing difficulties for teams and riders, resulting in numerous crashes. The conditions had an impact on the weekend start for Sam Lowes who struggled to find the right confidence but finished the day on a positive trend. His improvement of almost two seconds between the two sessions is confirmation of this.
“It is just the first day, but we are clearly doing a great job. I am proud to be part of this project and I am sure that the guys in Noale will also be happy with the results we are achieving. To be honest, I did not expect it because this morning I didn’t have a good feeling. The track conditions are rather demanding, as they always are at Phillip Island, but in FP2 I was able to put a good lap together. We can improve on pace. The RS-GP still doesn’t turn the way I would like it to and I am lacking a bit of feeling on the front. Finding a good feeling for the race will be fundamental. Today we saw a lot of crashes and with the rain everything will be even harder.”
“A good day for the team. Aleix is doing a great job and I was also able to improve in the afternoon. It takes experience to interpret the conditions on this track. The strong wind shakes your confidence and as a rookie it isn’t easy. The high average speed on this track makes everything more complicated, but I finished the day on an upward trend. I didn’t make any mistakes and I am feeling confident for tomorrow’s sessions.”