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2021 Aprilia “quite different” to ride – Espargaro

Aleix Espargaro says the 2021 Aprilia RS-GP doesn’t look like a revolution, but feels “quite different” to ride after topping the first day of the Qatar MotoGP pre-season test.

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini

Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Aprilia and KTM are the only manufacturer’s allowed to start 2021 with totally new motorcycles, with the former unveiling its redesigned RS-GP on Thursday.

Espargaro and team-mate Lorenzo Savadori have already been testing the bike since last November, with Espargaro completing a further 57 laps on Saturday in Qatar on his way to the top of the timesheets with a 1m54.687s.

When asked by Autosport to compare the 2020 and 2021 versions of the RS-GP, Espargaro explained: “Yes, the bike doesn’t look like a revolution but to ride it is quite different.

“Especially regarding the stability, we made a big step forward as the bike is a lot more stable and also the aerodynamic side they did a big, big job.

“The bike is completely different. In acceleration I feel that we made one improvement and the bike has a lot more downforce, so the bike is really physical, more than last season’s bike.

“But it is more stable so that allows me to accelerate better which is more than welcomed.

“We are paying a little bit on the top speed, so we still have to find the balance and we still have to understand the bike to see the strong points and the weak points.

“But the bike likes me quite a lot. It means we did a great job as when we had one of the slowest bikes [on the straight] but we are P1 with a very, very fast lap time on the first day.

“So, now we have to understand how we can improve and find a good balance.”

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Aprilia’s top speed deficit was eye-opening on Saturday, with Espargaro 15km/h slower through the speed trap than the fastest Ducati of Jack Miller.

Admitting the current Aprilia is slower on a straight than the 2020 bike, Espargaro feels the deficit is exacerbated by the bike’s aerodynamics – which is a trade-off all manufacturers have to consider in modern MotoGP now.

“Sometimes it’s not just the engine, it’s a little bit complicated by the new MotoGP era from four or five years ago with the aerodynamics,” he added.

“Everything became more difficult. I have to say I’m accelerating better than ever, but the top speed clearly we have to improve.

“It’s very, very low. It’s lower than our top speed from last season, and we are losing 15km/h to the Ducati, so there is room to improve there.

“But as I say, the aerodynamics allow you to turn better or not, to accelerate more or less, and to make more or less top speed. So now we have to find the balance.

“Today I tried two different aerodynamic packages and we still have to understand, but obviously I would like to have better top speed.”

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