18 February 2018
The three days of testing on the Thai Chang circuit were a fundamental stop along the way to approaching the first race of the season. This is especially true for Aprilia, busy developing the new 2018 RS-GP in its second outing after its Sepang début.
The workload in the garage was determined by the demands of a project that, although connected to the bike used last season, has undergone many changes. This means that the teams and riders need to understand the reactions to the changes in the setup, working at the same time on testing new components.
For Aleix Espargaró and Scott Redding, this was also their first time on a track that is brand new to MotoGP. The decidedly particular, almost unique characteristics of the Thai track allowed the teams to take on new technical challenges, from which a lot of useful information was drawn in preparation for the next steps in view of the Qatar race.
Over the three days, Aleix turned 188 laps, the fastest of which done today at time of 1’30,701. Scott Redding turned 185 laps, putting his best time on the sheets in today’s session at 1’31.311.
“This track proved to be tough, but we were able to clearly identify the areas where we need to improve and I have the utmost confidence in Aprilia. I am sure that from here to Qatar, we will be able to count on a good starting base for our championship season. The areas that give us the most trouble are mainly the stop-and-go corners where we lose more than our rivals. Today we were able to improve in this area, but not enough to let us narrow the gap further. I gave it my all in these tests which were perhaps the most demanding since I have been with Aprilia. We want to keep improving and growing lap after lap.”
“These tests were good overall. I am especially pleased with the consistent improvements, day by day, both in terms of development of the 2018 RS-GP and in terms of my feeling in the saddle. We did a tight testing schedule which was necessary in order to then define the technical package for the first race. This morning we took a step forward in terms of braking. Even if it gets a bit difficult to have the right reference when the temperatures rise, I think the direction we are going is promising. We are constantly working on several fronts because we are developing the new bike while I am adapting my style to the RS-GP. We could have been a few tenths faster on our time attack but, to be honest, I think that we have other priorities at the moment.”
ROMANO ALBESIANO – APRILIA RACING MANAGER
“The Thai track is not a particularly easy circuit to interpret for the riders and for the engineers. This was a fundamental test, because coming here without any experience would have really been complicated. We learned a lot, putting the 2018 RS-GP through its paces on a track that is different from Sepang, with unique characteristics compared to the rest of the circuits on the calendar. We collected data that will be useful in defining the configuration with which we will tackle the season opener. In particular, today we explored a new area in terms of the position of the bike’s centre of gravity, which gave both Aleix and Scott good sensations. We had a new bike and a 2017 bike available for each rider in order to compare some characteristics, but from Qatar we’ll switch to two new bikes, given the unanimous feedback on the overall improvement compared to last year.”