Alvaro Bautista wraps up Sepang 2 Test satisfied with progress
Three intense days for Aprilia Racing Team Gresini on the Sepang track. At the second testing session on the Malaysian circuit the team turned up with a lot of material and new solutions to try out on the track in view of the upcoming MotoGP season.
They worked almost entirely on intermediate steps between the first version of the RS-GP, tested in the autumn sessions at Valencia and Jerez, and the more advanced version that was placed on the track in the first Sepang tests in early February.
The stated goal was to choose the definitive materials and solutions for the bikes which will début at the Qatar GP on 29 March.
For the engine the refinement process of the V4 with pneumatic valve timing continued. This is a unit which made a brief appearance at the Valencia tests and then gradually became more reliable and complete in terms of electronic management. There is still much work to be done, but the information gathered at Sepang will be fundamental for the choices the mechanics and riders will make.
Alvaro Bautista and Marco Melandri put in a total of 257 laps (135 for Alvaro and 122 for Marco). During the three days Marco also tested a bike which was quite close to the SBK that he rode last season with the goal of finding the right feeling on the new tyres.
But on this third and final day, Marco Melandri also focused exclusively on the intermediate version of the RS-GP, while Alvaro even took on some long runs, seeking to improve his feeling with the Aprilia even more. This did not keep him from continuing to change the bike and from putting a good time on the sheets (2’01.310) as demonstration of the quality and the quantity of the work done.
Now the engineers at Noale will have time to examine the information gathered and take the final decisions.
ROMANO ALBESIANO (Aprilia Racing Manager)
“I’m quite pleased with the tests because we confirmed how well balanced our bike is, also highlighting the exact direction we need to take in development, both in terms of chassis and electronics. We didn’t have any particular problems with reliability and that is comforting. Another positive note is that our race pace during simulations is encouraging, even more than our flying lap times. This morning a small problem kept Alvaro from further improving his best lap. He could have shaved a little more off but overall the result of these tests is definitely encouraging. We were able to complete all of the scheduled tests and in the coming days we’ll have a look at things and decide which direction to take for Qatar.”
FAUSTO GRESINI (Team Manager)
“These were three intense days where we were able to complete a lot of tests in various areas of the bike, from the setup to the frame and even the electronics and engine. All in all even our riders’ time sheets improved compared to the previous Sepang 1 tests and that’s a sign that little by little we are moving forward and improving. We also gathered some more precious information that will allow us to keep working on development at home whilst waiting to get back on the track for the last test in Qatar before the opening round.”
“This last day was a positive one. After testing various solutions over the last few days today we focused on the base setting that I liked the best. This morning we improved our best lap straight away, taking another important step forward. Another fundamental test was the new 340 millimetre brake discs, a modifications that I got used to right away but that also required some further settings on the bike. This afternoon, at the hottest time of the day, we took our long run and I must say that I immediately felt good riding with a full tank. I’m starting to have fun and that is essential. I had to stop because of a small problem with a wheel and then we got back on the track and even with a used tyre we had a good pace. After the long run we also compared some new material that we didn’t have before, specifically looking for better traction. These are all positive tests looking toward the Qatar test sessions, because a lot of ideas came out in terms of development. At the end of the day I’m satisfied. I want to thank all the guys at Aprilia because they did a great job these last three days. We all want to improve more in the next tests!”