Sepang, Malaysia, 28 January 2018 – The MotoGP 2018 season began today with the first day of tests in Malaysia. The Sepang circuit will have the riders busy doing three days that are fundamental for laying the foundation on which to build the new season. In the Aprilia garage, attention was focused on the début of the RS-GP in the new 2018 version, an evolution of the Italian prototype that aims to continue on the same path of growth begun last season.
Both Aleix Espargaró and Scott Redding had a chance to ride the new bike after building confidence with the track and the MotoGP pace using the 2017 version RS-GP machines. Feedback from Aleix was positive straight away. The Spanish rider showed overall improvement and, above all, a clear margin of growth that the new configuration offers. His best time out of the total 40 laps turned (2'00.866) was done with the 2018 bike and without trying a time attack, but rather with a gradual approach, concentrating on development and the analysis of each technical detail.
Redding, who was one of the first to go out on the track despite asphalt compromised by a morning storm, took advantage of most of the day astride the 2017 bike. The final part of the test, with the new bike, did not give Scott enough time to fully explore the potential of the RS-GP. This is an operation that will continue tomorrow and the next day.
ALEIX ESPARGARO' (bike no. 41): “Today was like the first day of school. The first two hours were demanding after such a long time of not riding a MotoGP bike, but step by step I regained the feeling. The first approach with the new bike was definitely positive. Especially in terms of the frame, the 2018 RS-GP lets me go into corners better and it reflects what I asked the Aprilia engineers for. We still have a lot of margin for improvement. The bike is at 75% and we will get to 100% for the Qatar tests.
Tomorrow we will continue working on the 2018 bike, whereas on the third day we'll do some comparative testing to have clear ideas on development from here until the first race."
SCOTT REDDING (bike no. 45): “This morning in the wet with the 2017 bike I found a rather good feeling straight away and we continued to improve on every outing, reaching a good level of feeling. The first approach with the 2018 RS-GP was just a taste. We simply moved the settings from the old bike to the new one.
I felt the potential, but it is a very different bike, so we will need to work to adapt it to my needs. We'll focus on this over the next two days, both in terms of the position in the saddle and the settings."
ROMANO ALBESIANO, APRILIA RACING MANAGER: “The new bike that made its début today was confirmation for Aleix of the good points that our tester Baiocco highlighted, as the lap time improvement demonstrates. There are positive aspects both going into and coming out of turns. This is a good starting point on a first day that was a rather introductory phase. We will have a change to analyse our performance over the coming days, where everyone will be pushing harder, but the first approach was definitely promising."