Valencia (Spain), 12 November 2014 - With three days of testing on the Valencia track the Aprilia MotoGP adventure has begun. Aprilia turned up for testing on the Ricardo Tormo circuit, which actually represented a taste of the 2015 season with Gresini Racing who will be managing the Italian bikes in the MotoGP class.
Melandri and Bautista threw a leg over the Aprilia MotoGP bike for the first time, also having two of the brand new pneumatic valve distribution engine available.
A brand new engine that needs to be dialled in, especially in terms of electronic management, and a completely new bike for the two riders. After 4 years in the Superbike championship, Melandri had the additional issue of regaining familiarity with Bridgestone tyres and carbon brakes. And so the goal for this first outing was to build experience, put in a lot of laps and collect as much data as possible. However, there was no lack of positive indications, especially in terms of potential – and therefore the possibility for development – of both the bike and the powerplant.
The work plan, which originally had only the test rider Alex Hofmann lapping on Monday, was changed in midstream due to adverse weather conditions. And so both Melandri and Bautista took to the track straight away, even if for only a few laps, on Monday afternoon. It turned out to be an excellent decision since the second day was characterised by a constantly wet track due to persistent rain. In any case these were not conditions that prevented the two Aprilia riders from taking a total of 73 laps (24 for Melandri and Bautista with an impressive 49).
The situation on Wednesday was decidedly better. The riders went out on the track in the late morning and kept testing until 5:00 PM. 68 laps for Bautista and 56 for Melandri are a testament to the amount of work done.
Marco Melandri: “We took a completely new bike out on its maiden run - what a great experience! For me I had to get used to some very different tyres than the ones from my Superbike seasons. That's why it was important to take a lot of laps and accumulate data and a feeling with the bike. From that point of view I am satisfied because I'm starting to figure out where to make changes and how. The bike is different than the Aprilia ridden in SBK but it was "born well" and responds well to changes. There is a lot of work to do and the next tests at Jerez will be important. Then we'll begin to have a clearer idea of our potential.”
Alvaro Bautista: “It was a surprising and very positive test! Yesterday in the wet I was able to begin familiarising myself with the bike and to understand how it needs to be ridden. Each time I got on the bike I felt more and more comfortable. Today we were able to put in several dry laps, but basically the goal was the same: put in kilometres and continue getting to know the bike. The results are positive although we obviously are aware that there is still a lot of work to do. The engine needs to be improved, but already at the end of the month we'll test the new pneumatic valve unit at Jerez. As for the chassis, we didn't make any changes to the suspension setup and geometries during these tests. We'll begin doing that at Jerez in the next testing session. I immediately felt at ease with the team and the mechanics. We are working well together and they understand my indications. I think we'll be able to do a good job together.”
Romano Albesiano, Aprilia Racing Manager, has positive feelings about the first outing: “We are satisfied with these first tests. For us this was a true début with all the unknown factors one might expect, but at the end of these three days we can look toward the future development steps with confidence. The new bike proved to be very well balanced straight away and the pneumatic valve engine that we tested on Friday impressed Hofmann with its top shelf performance and rideability. Alvaro confirmed our expectations, immediately demonstrating a good feeling with the bike and a great inclination for the fine tuning work. The times Alvaro put on the board are positive, despite the fact that we only used the 2014 engine today. Marco built experience on a bike that is new for him as well and he began his apprenticeship on the Bridgestone tyres, extremely high performance but also very different from the ones he has become accustomed to. Now all that's left is to get back to work at Noale with the data collected to prepare the developments we'll be taking to the next tests at Jerez.”
Fausto Gresini: “These tests represented an initial positive contact between the riders, the team and the Aprilia staff. This was a very important event that gave us some encouraging indications and that took place in an atmosphere of great enthusiasm. We are all very much aware of the amount of work that needs to be done, but we are excited to do it and to improve. After yesterday being conditioned by the rain, today we were able to collect the first valuable data on how to move forward. Now we will wait for the Jerez tests which will also be very important because they will be the last ones before the winter break. In any case it was important to take our first steps here and there is no doubt that we did it the right way. I am satisfied.”