Following months of inability to test ride the RS-GP, three riders for Aprilia Racing Team Gresini took to the new track surface at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli. Aleix Espargaró, Bradley Smith, and Lorenzo Savadori put in hundreds of laps around the circuit in preparation for the beginning of the 2020 MotoGP World Championship Series next month.
Espargaró was the fastest of the three riders, putting in a 1:32.932 lap. In comparison, Espargaró put in a 1:33.522 qualifying time at Misano in last year’s San Marino GP. In the 2019 race, Espargaró’s best time was 1:34.716. Espargaró put in 183 laps at the Misano World Circuit at this week’s test.
“After such a long stop, it was exciting to get back onto the track,” Espargaró explained, “and I already can’t wait to go to Jerez for the first two races. Turning a lot of laps is fundamental for us. We have a totally new bike which, although born with great potential, needs to get some miles under it. We also know that Misano is not our favorite track, but in spite of that, at the end of the three days, we managed to achieve a good pace, confirming the positive impressions we had already had in Malaysia and Qatar.”
Bradley Smith, who is filling in for the suspended Andrea Iannone, logged 207 laps on the Aprilia RS-GP. Smith’s best time was a 1:33.536, which would have qualified him on row six of the 2019 San Marino GP starting grid, between Alexis Espargaró and Jack Miller.
“I’m honestly pleased at the end of these tests,” Smith revealed. “I had to make a physical and mental step to go from tester to rider, and I think I managed, especially on this last day. Right now, it is fundamental for us to gain experience on this new bike, gathering data, and understanding how it reacts. While the base setup proved to be good straight away in Malaysia and Qatar, there are still many aspects that we need to explore in order to exploit the full potential of the new project. On my part, I know that I still have room to improve, and Aleix’s performance demonstrates as much, but the gap has shrunk, and I feel much more at ease taking the 2020 RS-GP to the limit.”
After spending most of the three test days on the Aprilia RSV4 1100 superbike, Savadori hopped onto the MotoGP racing RS-GP on the final day of testing. Aprilia is mum on his lap times.
“It was nice to be back in the saddle of the Aprilia MotoGP bike,” Savadori allowed. “The sensations improve every time I get on it. My feeling improves with the tires, with the bike, and with the brakes, and I understand more and more which style to adopt to begin to exploit it. I turned more than 80 laps today, and I am rather pleased from every point of view. We are growing with the RSV4 1100 that I’ll be using in the Italian Championship. We still need to figure out a few things, but we’ll be back on the track in a few days for the first race at Mugello. I lapped a lot over these three days, more than 900 kilometers, but physically I feel very well, and this is also positive.”
Aprilia Racing Technical Director Romano Albesiano had this to say about the three-day Misano test: “These were important tests to define the starting point of our championship. We assessed the various chassis, engine, and electronics solutions, in addition to breaking in a team that is brand new in many aspects. The riders needed this test as well to get back into the rhythm after such a long stop, and I must say that I saw them improving day after day. The decisions in view of Jerez have been taken. Many of the new features we had prepared worked well, and I am rather pleased with the overall level of the bike. In any case, there is still a lot of work to do on the details, especially to increase overall reliability.
“We say it every year,” Albesiano admitted, “but it isn’t wrong to do so— the level of the championship has gone up even farther, and that pushes us to make an even greater effort.”