16 February 2018
The first of three days of tests at the Chang International Circuit provided a few important responses, the clearest of which is how close the times done by the MotoGP riders are. In fact, no less than 20 riders are packed into one second of one another.
In the Aprilia garage, as with the Sepang tests, there was a 2017 RS-GP and a 2018 machine for both Aleix Espargaró and for Scott Redding. This is an arrangement that allows development to continue on the new prototype, approved by both riders in Malaysia and in any case able to count on a familiar base for any necessary comparisons.
Aleix spent almost the entire session today using the 2018 version of the RS-GP, gradually building his confidence on the new track. The Spaniard turned a total of 62 lap, the best of which in 1’31.662. Scott, on the other hand, used the 2017 bike in the morning for a few scheduled tests, throwing a leg over the new RS-GP in the afternoon. At the end of the day, he had done a total of 59 laps with a best time of 1’31.685.
“To be honest, the track surprised me. I had more fun than I thought I would. The first part is not particularly interesting with all the straights connected by braking sections, but overall it is a nice track. It is precisely in the first part where we need to work, because we are losing a few tenths in acceleration from low speed. On the flowing parts, on the other hand, we are very competitive. At the end of the day today I got back on the 2017 bike and I was able to reconfirm just how much the 2018 has improved in that area. It is lighter, more reactive and it performs better on corners, so I think continuing work on the new RS-GP is the right way to go.”
“I must say that the circuit is more technical than it looks; for example, on the second turn, when you have to brake after a long straight without any braking point of reference. Overall I liked it. It’s better than I had expected it to be. This morning we had a problem with the 2018 bike, so I used the 2017. It did not slow us down, because part of our schedule included tests on last year’s bike, so we simply did that type of testing first. We continued working in the afternoon with the 2018 bike, trying various things including the handlebar mounted rear brake because, since I am quite tall and have a rather bulky boot, I struggle to use the foot brake.”