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Aprilia Introduces New Aerodynamic Devices on Upgraded RS-GP Bike
The excitement was palpable as Aprilia debuted an updated version of their RS-GP during pre-season testing at Sepang. The Italian manufacturer has been hard at work introducing new aerodynamic devices on the bike, aiming to improve performance and stability.
Aleix Espargaro, one of Aprilia’s star riders, delivered a strong performance on the final day of testing by finishing fifth overall. Notably, he also claimed the title of being the top non-Ducati rider on the timesheets. His lap time was only four tenths slower than pacesetter Francesco Bagnaia.
In his assessment of the upgraded bike, Espargaro acknowledged that it is “definitely more competitive” compared to its predecessor and provides enhanced stability while cornering. However, he emphasized that engine performance remains an area where Aprilia must make significant improvements in order to close the gap with leading competitors.
Espargaro expressed hope for increased torque and power delivery in mid-range RPMs after gear changes. He believes that boosting engine power will be crucial if they aim to challenge front-runners effectively.
Mid-Corner Pace Highlighted as Strength but Challenges Remain
While Espargaro praised the RS-GP’s mid-corner pace and its compatibility with his riding style, concerns arise when maneuvering behind slower bikes entering turns. This predicament poses a unique challenge for both him and the Aprilia engineers, who are yet to find a solution.
The Spanish rider confessed that he loves the bike’s character and its exceptional stability, which allows for daring overtakes with added confidence. However, he also noted that the bike feels heavy, making direction changes more demanding. The true test of these characteristics will come in Qatar.
Teammate Vinales Grapples with Braking and Corner Entry
Maverick Vinales had a tougher time adapting to the RS-GP during testing compared to his teammate Espargaro. He finished 12th overall on Thursday, trailing behind by four tenths of a second.
Vinales revealed struggles with both braking and corner entry as his main challenges. He described feeling instability during corner entry, preventing him from pushing harder on the bike. Instead of riding the bike himself, he felt as though it was controlling him.
Having experienced different sensations during previous tests in Valencia last November, Vinales is aware of what adjustments need to be made for improved performance. Collaborating closely with aerodynamics experts, they are exploring potential effects on his current issues.
The goal is to establish better balance within the bike’s configuration so that additional engine brake can be applied effectively when braking into corners. This aspect has proven advantageous for Ducati riders and could significantly enhance Vinales’ performance moving forward.