Aleix Espargaro concluded the Phillip Island Test with a lot of positives, as he placed the Gresini Factory Aprilia in 10th place, whilst teammate Sam Lowes was 21st on the final day.
The team worked solidly, trying to find a sweet-spot for race distance runs, maintaining the pace through a race being the end goal. Espargaro praised the forward direction, saying that they’d found solutions in fast corners as well as saying that the bike suits his riding style.
“We are leaving these tests at a good overall level. We really worked hard. Today we focused on consistent performance. The RS-GP did very well in race simulations but we know that there is still room for improvement on that front, said Aleix, who joined the team from Suzuki last season.
“Here at Phillip Island I found a bike that once again suits my riding style in braking, whereas we were able to improve in terms of grip compared with the Sepang tests. After talking with the others, I think that we should be able to gain something in the turns, especially the fast corners, speaking of which, we tried a few changes to the chassis architecture to see if we could find more speed in the centre of the turns.
The 27-year-old said that they will continue with this attitude in Qatar. “In Qatar we will continue in this direction, trying both the new fairing and the evolved engine again to establish the base for the first race weekend.”
Sam Lowes was also riding well; the Brit was one of only two riders not to break the pole time set in 2016 but the distance from him to the top has shrunk dramatically over the three days, and now stands at just 1.6 seconds.
“There are many more positive aspects of our tests than it may seem. I started off with a few difficulties, but growth was constant. I managed to stay up with the group of riders ahead of me, despite a few uncertainties in my fast lap that cost me a couple of tenths, said the Moto2 winner from the previous two seasons.
“We obviously need to be faster, but I think that all the riders on the grid would say the same. The gaps are incredibly close. Except for the top two, practically all the other riders are within just over a second.
The former World Supersport champion said that he could battle for points in the race, but their potential is far superior to that.
“To be honest, if we were to race tomorrow I think I could battle for the points zone, but I know that our potential is much higher, so the tests in Qatar will be our chance to look for another step forward. What Aleix demonstrated with the 2017 bike is an important sign. I know that I have a good technical package to start the season in the best possible way.”
Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko