Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro is aiming for a more consistent MotoGP campaign in 2018 than the one he had last year, rather than achieving one standout result.
Aprilia’s 2017 season was plagued by mechanical issues in several races, with lead rider Espargaro only took 15th in the standings with a best finish of sixth.
Espargaro said the 2018 version of the RS-GP has “improved considerably”, and while he says he is “dreaming” of a podium finish his main target is to eliminate the ups and downs of last season.
“I want to see the Aprilia in the points always and at the end of the year be much closer to Ducati, Yamaha and Honda,” said the Spaniard. “This is the most important thing.”
“It doesn’t make sense to aim for one podium and then at the end of the year be 14th in the points.
“I think we can get in the top eight on merit, we’ll see. The RS-GP 2018 has improved considerably in many aspects.
“We didn’t improve in the engine [the new unit was delayed], but that will arrive in Qatar and I’m convinced it will help us be stronger.
“In general the bike fits my style much more, when I tested it for the first time in Malaysia and Thailand I realised this.”
Espargaro’s new teammate Scott Redding, despite managing only the 20th-fastest time on the last day of the most recent test in Qatar, also said his goal will be to consistently finish in the top eight.
“For Aprilia, the goal is to go inside the top eight which is not a crazy idea, it is very possible,” said the Briton.
“That is just my outside goal vision, if I go to Qatar I finish inside the top eight I am happy, if I am in the top eight maybe there is potential for more.
“I don’t want to put any extra pressure on myself for no reason because in the end we don’t know what is possible until the first race.”
Both Espargaro and Redding pointed out one-lap pace as a weakness for the bike, but at the same time praised the RS-GP’s race pace.
“During the test we noticed that all the other bikes are stronger than us at getting the best lap time with low fuel,” said Espargaro.
“But when we are heavier and in the race configuration, the Aprilia has a good management of the tyres and this means that on Sunday we can do well, but obviously we have to improve on Saturday.”
Redding added: “The bike in the race simulation is very fast, very strong.
“We need to improve a little bit the speed of the bike, reduce a bit the weight of the bike so then that could help the speed.”
Additional reporting by Francesco Corghi