Owner of the sixth fastest time in the tests at Sepang, Aleix Espargaro was naturally a satisfied rider with the work carried out at the Noale factory in winter. Even so, the rider assumes that the difference to Ducati, despite Aprilia’s improvements, remains remarkable.
‘To shorten the distances for Ducati, we are missing two things, I think. For me they still have the best engine. They’re not miles away from us anymore, but they still have the best engine by far and they’re really good at stopping the bike, it’s crazy. The feeling I have with the Aprilia is that I can stop the bike with just the front wheel and when they brake you can see that both suspensions lower and that they also use the back wheel to slow the bike down. We’ve been looking into this part a lot and I’ve experimented with settings on the bike that put more weight on the back wheel when braking and it worked quite well, that’s how I got my best lap. It works but it’s not enough, so we have to keep working to close the gap with the Ducati riders. We still have some aerodynamic solutions that we want to test in Portimao’, the rider told at the end of the tests.
His Aprilia and that of Maverick Viñales were, along with Marc Marquez’s Honda RC213V, the only bikes in the final top ten of the combined timesheet that were not Ducati Desmosedici. All seven other bikes in the top ten were Ducati, including four Desmosedici from last year. Johann Zarco was the only Ducati rider outside the top ten, in 16th.