Aprilia RS-GP DevelopmentDuring it’s official return to MotoGP in 2015, Aprilia fielded a two-rider lineup with Alvaro Bautista and Marco Melandri at the controls of the RS-GP. A year devoted to development, Bautista had a best finish of 10th at both Catalunya and Silverstone MotoGP, and finished the season 16th overall. As for Melandri, he called it quits early.For 2016, Aprilia returns with Bautista and 2011 MotoGP Champion Stefan Bradl. Both riders got their first shakedown of their repsective RS-GP machines this week at Sepang International Circuit. The third and final day of pre-season MotoGP testing had Aprilia Racing Team Gresini riders only able to utilize a small portion of the eight-hour testing window.
Due to early morning conditions in Malaysia, the Aprilia team was in a rough spot – not enough wet weather to make use of rain tires aon the RS-GP, but enough rain fell from the sky to prevent Bautista and Bradl from exiting the paddock.Forced to wait until the late afternoon, Bautista and Bradl and Stefan were able to get some track time and collect much needed data. Their goal for the day was developing the new electronics packages that the team will be using this coming season. When MotoGP testing concluded, both riders felt that they had made great strides when it came to the electronics and tires, but said there was room for improvement. Both riders were in agreement, though, that the greatest margin for improvement is in the electronic packages.Over the three days Bautista completed in 132 laps with a best time of 2:02,876, and Bradl 128 laps with a best time of 2:02.372.Romano Albesiano, Aprilia Racing Manager had this to say about the tests: “Here at Sepang we worked on two fronts, the new electronics and the Michelin tires. I’m rather satisfied with the progress the tires show, especially the front which provides the riders with a good feeling and lets them push with confidence. On the electronics front, on the other hand, we still have a lot of work to do in order to reach a satisfactory base level. We need more time to figure out how to take the best advantage of the settings for all the parameters. Overall we have taken some steps forward and now we have the most difficult challenge ahead – taking the new 2016 bike onto the track.”Fausto Gresini, Team Manager was also on hand to share his thoughts: “Three very useful days to increase our familiarity with the new aspects of this season, tires and the new electronics. Being able to finish various assessments was extremely important, especially in terms of the electronics, in order to create a good base setup to transfer to the new prototype. Stefan and Alvaro once again proved to be great professionals. The data collected will allow us to streamline setting up development on the new bike. It will début before long and I would like to thank all the Aprilia engineers and technicians who put in an enormous effort to make a new bike. We can’t wait to see it in action.”Alvaro Baustista spoke with confidence about the tests: “We did a lot of work over these three days, especially on the electronics. We put in a lot of short sessions to give our technicians a change to analyze a large quantity of small changes, gathering information which will then be analyzed at home. There is still a lot to do. For the tires I’m beginning to learn the characteristics and the feeling has greatly improved. After riding for my entire MotoGP career on a certain type of tire it took some time to adapt. I can’t wait to get to Doha where there will be more days of hard work but with the important motivation of the new bike.”Stefan Bradl also shared some words on the matter: “These were some intense tests, spent above all on trying to improve the electronics package. Progress was made although we know that there is still plenty of room for improvement. This was the last test with the 2015 bike, so gathering as much data as possible was fundamental to facilitate the racing department’s job. My mind is already on the next tests in Qatar where we’ll have a completely new bike on which to apply everything we’ve learned thus far. By analyzing the data and crunching the numbers on what we’ve tested I think that we’ll be able to start from the best possible base electronics settings and then improve on it race after race.”