12 May 2023 - At a Le Mans circuit already invaded by French fans, the first practice sessions on Friday were held on a completely dry track. Aleix and Maverick began their weekend well, taking the RS-GP into the top ten in both sessions and therefore, at the end of the day, earning the right to go straight through to the Q2 session which will determine the first four rows of the starting grid.
Both of the factory RS-GP machines took to the track with a special message on the fairings, dedicated to the upcoming Aprilia All Stars event which will convene thousands of Aprilia, World Grand Prix Motorcycle racing, and motorsport enthusiasts at the Misano circuit on 27 May.
Despite a crash on turn 9 during P2, Aleix did good times both on his long runs and in his final time attack, with a 1'31.069 that earned him second place.
It was also a positive day for Maverick who, after working hard on his race configuration with aerodynamic and setup tests, took the final step with a sixth place which means that he will also be going straight through to Q2.
Regretfully, we must report that Raùl Fernandez who, recently operated for compartment syndrome, was forced to stop just a few laps in and his weekend came to an end with the goal of coming back at 100% fitness for the Mugello GP. Aprilia Racing test rider Lorenzo Savadori (bike no. 32), who is subbing for Miguel Oliveira in Le Mans, took advantage of his first day to work on becoming more familiar with the French track.
Aleix Espargaró (bike no. 41): “The bike is really working well, especially with the soft front tyre. It is obviously only Friday, but it’s always important to be fast and I’m satisfied.
We are using some new aerodynamic features that help me in acceleration and on turn 1, where you really go in fast and the bike tends to move around a lot. Tomorrow we’ll set our sights on pole position, but we know how difficult it always is here in Le Mans.”
Maverick Viñales (bike no. 12): “Today was a very good day. We took a lot of things that we tried in the tests out on the track, collecting a good amount of data and the fact that they worked, even on a very different circuit, is extremely positive. Now we have data to increase our potential and to try to push harder tomorrow.
I feel strong and I think that we have margin for improvement for Saturday. Today going through to Q2 was important and we did just that, so now we’ll wait to see what the weather will be like, but in any case, we are ready to do a good job.”
THE APRILIAS SHOW GREAT POTENTIAL IN LE MANS BUT ARE UNABLE TO SUBSTANTIATE. HINDERED BY A TECHNICAL PROBLEM IN QUALIFYING, MAVERICK HAS TO SETTLE FOR THE SECOND ROW AND ALEIX CRASHES DURING HIS TIME ATTACK. THIS MAKES THE SPRINT RACE AN UPHILL BATTLE WITH ALEIX COMING BACK TO EIGHTH AHEAD OF MAVERICK IN NINTH.
13 May 2023 - On the Saturday of the French GP weekend where the riders and bikes once again showed great potential, Aprilia was unable to convert the performance into a corresponding end result.
After going straight through to Q2 thanks to their great sessions yesterday, in the initial part of qualifying Maverick and Aleix demonstrated that they would be able to aim high. Maverick even held a clean lead for the entire first part of the session, but when he went back out on track to launch his decisive assault for pole position, which seemed to be closer than ever before, he was hindered by an electronic problem on his RS-GP. The time he had dominated with during the first part of Q2 only kept him on the second row in sixth place.
Things did not go any better for Aleix who fell victim to a crash as he was attempting his attack for the top positions, finishing with the eleventh time and a spot on the fourth row. His starting position compromised the sprint race on Saturday, forcing both riders to battle in the positions just behind the leading group which, in the meantime, had widened the gap. Aleix finished eighth ahead of Maverick in ninth.
Aleix Espargaró (bike no. 41): “This morning I had extremely good sensations. Unfortunately, in the second qualifying run I made a mistake on turn 1, compromising my spot on the grid. So, in the Sprint race we decided to take a gamble, using the hard front tyre that we had not been able to test in any of the practice sessions. It was a test with a view to the race tomorrow, which will certainly be useful. We definitely have the pace to do well.”
Maverick Viñales (bike no. 12): “I am not at all pleased with the race and I am extremely angry. In qualifying we had the chance to do very well. The bike was perfect, and I had a shot at pole position or the front row. Instead, we had a problem with the bike (I think electronic – we are still investigating) and the second bike wasn’t ready. These are mistakes that come with a high price to pay in the race because then, starting from behind, everything becomes more difficult and we can’t express the potential we have. We need to improve and grow more because we cannot afford these situations.”