PRIVATEER HUMBLES ‘STRUGGLING’ FACTORY APRILIA
The officially supported Milwaukee Aprilia Racing team of Eugene Laverty and Julian Simon endured a tough weekend after being outpaced by the relatively inexperienced Leandro Mercado onboard his privateer IODA Racing RSV-4.
The usually potent Laverty was six seconds down on Mercado in race one and over two seconds behind in race two. The Irish rider explained his predicament, one he could not have predicted at the end of last year.
“It was a tough weekend right away from Friday,” he said. “We struggled but I did what I could and tried to bring it home.
“I made a good start in race two and thought ‘OK, let’s have a fight’, but the guys rode inside and outside of me.
“We do not have a bike we can fight with so it was the best I could do today. The wind made this some of the trickiest conditions I have ridden in.”
Laverty, like his whole team, needs results soon to fulfil the glittering promise the squad has on paper.
“We need to find lap times and we are struggling even compared to last year’s Aprilia. Mercado’s bike looks more similar to the other guys when I see him on track. Something is seriously wrong with this year’s bike and we need to get to the bottom of it. At the moment it is dangerous to try to fight with the other guys. In race one yesterday I hit the guys four times. That is dangerous. I cannot turn the bike, cannot stop it and hopefully in the test this week I can get to the bottom of it.”
The underlying issue may be that the 2017 bike has a new tank and seat unit, and a fixed engine position that appears too low in the frame compared to previous years and this is not helping with weight transfer under braking and acceleration.
‘In race one yesterday I hit the guys four times. That is dangerous’