Aprilia’s 2018 MotoGP team, comprised of Aleix Espargaró and Scott Redding, is looking good and ready for the season’s start in Qatar at the Losail International Circuit.
Aprilia’s proudly all-Italian challenge in the MotoGP™ World Championship is ready to go in 2018. The work done by the Noale Racing Department during the 2017 season came together to show consistent growth of the RS-GP project which, once again characterised by the Italian livery designed by Aldo Drudi, has been revamped and advanced in every area for the 2018 season.
The final part of the season was a turning point for Aprilia. The sixth place earned by Aleix Espargaró at Aragón with a gap of less than six seconds behind the winner, followed immediately by excellent performance in Japan (fourth in qualifying) and Australia (best time at the end of the first day of practice) highlighted clear progress, then halted by the unfortunate injury Espargaró suffered as he was battling in the lead group during the Phillip Island GP.
For the 2018 season, Aprilia is keen to pick up from there with a bike that maintains the same construction philosophy as its forerunner, but refined and advanced in every aspect. And Espargaro is now joined in the team by Scott Redding, the youngest ever GP winner, who will race alongside the Spaniard in the premier class.
“Last year we rode some very good races and only a few mistakes compromised our final position in the standings,” says Espargaro. “I have great confidence for 2018. The team has worked well and the new RS-GP is growing in the right direction. All of our rivals have improved a lot. MotoGP is a top level championship, but I am certain that we will be close to the top. I am a positive person. I prepared well for this new season and I believe in the direction we are going.”
Redding, meanwhile, is still adapting – but also confident ahead of lights out. “This is my first year as a factory rider and I must say that I have had very positive sensations so far. Having a team behind me that supports me and works with me to improve the bike gives me great motivation. We have managed to improve consistently with every outing, also experimenting with some solutions that were a gamble, but always with specific goals. It is difficult for me to make predictions right now. I am still adapting to the RS-GP and at the same time we have undertaken development of the 2018 model. In any case, I am positive. Thanks to the last tests in Qatar, we have taken another step forward, narrowing the gap behind the leaders, so I am confident as we approach the first race.”
In terms of the bike, Aprilia Racing Manager Romano Albesiano is also optimistic – and details some of the changes going into the season: “The 2018 RS-GP is an in-depth optimisation and evolution of the concepts we had on the track last year. The frame is radically new, as is the airbox, the cooling system and the aerodynamics. The new project’s first positive step was the popularity with the riders during the winter tests. They both noticed straight away how much the bike has grown. This reaction is never a given when you introduce such significant changes, but it makes us optimistic for this new MotoGP season. I expect this to be an extremely demanding season. The level has been raised even farther in terms of both the bikes and the riders on the grid. On our part, we have all our papers in order to be contenders.”
Finally, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini manager Fausto Gresini adds his thoughts ahead of the year – citing Espargaro’s experience in his second year with the team, and Redding’s impressive work so far.
“This will be an important season for us,” affirms Gresini. “Aleix, in his second year with Aprilia, will be able to take advantage of the experience he gained last season, where he learned to work with a new team and a new bike. He adapted quickly and allowed us to bring home some important results, further motivating the team thanks to his grit. Scott, for the first time, has the support of a factory team. He is still very young, but he has a lot of experience in MotoGP. We have already had the chance to sample his professional attitude and his technical prowess in the tests where he advanced development of the 2018 RS-GP impeccably.”