Rid­ers:: Al­varo Bautista & Ste­fan Bradl

Motorcycle News (UK) - - 2016 Motorgp Silverstone Preview -

Con­sider the plight of Aprilia: Du­cati and HRC each have more than a hun­dred staff work­ing in their race depart­ments; Aprilia have seven. Not only that, they are the only fac­tory who built a com­pletely new mo­tor­cy­cle for 2016; a mo­tor­cy­cle that was de­vel­oped with data from Bridge­stone tyres and Aprilia soft­ware and now races with Miche­lins and uni­fied elec­tron­ics.

That’s quite a headache for such a small work­ing group, but there’s no doubt the RS-GP is a bet­ter mo­tor­cy­cle than the Rsv4-de­rived ma­chines used in pre­vi­ous sea­sons. Dur­ing the first half of 2016 the RS-GP achieved eight top 10 re­sults, com­pared to the 2015 bike that scored four top 10s all year.

Aprilia have spent much of 2016 chas­ing the same prob­lem as the other fac­to­ries. Be­cause Miche­lin had been away from Mo­togp for seven years the com­pany has been devel­op­ing its tyres race by race. That’s a good thing but it makes life dif­fi­cult for en­gi­neers who are try­ing to score goals through goal posts that keep mov­ing.

“At the mo­ment we have to man­age the evo­lu­tion of the tyres by ad­just­ing set-up be­cause the tyres are al­ways more im­por­tant than the bike,” af­firms Aprilia rac­ing direc­tor Ro­mano Albe­siano. “But we are ex­per­i­ment­ing with dif­fer­ent stiff­ness frames and triple clamps. We have three frames of dif­fer­ent stiff­ness: Ste­fan prefers a more flex­i­ble frame be­cause he likes more feel and he’s less both­ered about the bike mov­ing around, while Al­varo likes a stiffer frame be­cause he likes a sta­ble bike.”

Un­like the big fac­to­ries whose en­gines are ‘frozen’ at the start of the sea­son, Aprilia are still al­lowed to de­velop their mo­tors. They bring up­grades to most races. “Since Qatar we have 10 more horse­power,” adds Albe­siano. “An­other 10 and we would be happy.” But does Albe­siano re­ally be­lieve that David can beat Go­liath? “Yes, it’s pos­si­ble,” he says. “If we had more staff we would grow up quicker, but we have what we need to reach a good level. It’s just a mat­ter of time.”

Aprilia has three dif­fer­ent frames to suit their rid­ers’ pref­er­ences

Un­der­dogs Aprilia have graced the top 10 eight times

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