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Aprilia settles on 'Step 1' RS-GP for MotoGP 2015

"We will find some extra room for the fuel, prepare all the parts and go racing" - Romano Albesiano, Aprilia.
Aprilia has settled on the Step 1 specification of its RS-GP machine to start the 2015 MotoGP season but, with one test remaining, is still seeking a solution to Marco Melandri's woes.

Making its Factory MotoGP return one year earlier than initially planned, Aprilia will use an upgraded version of its ART Open class machine this season. An all-new bike will then debut for 2016.

Aprilia brought two different 2015 RS-GPs for the opening test at Sepang, a Step 1 bike that made its debut during testing in November plus a new Step 2 design. Melandri and team-mate Alvaro Bautista both preferred the Step 1, struggling for feeling and grip due to different weight transfer characteristics on the Step 2.

Work on the Step 2 continued with test rider Michael Laverty during the first Michelin tyre test, and some 'radical' set-up changes brought an improvement. But by the conclusion of the second Sepang outing the decision was taken to race the Step 1.

“We brought the Step 1 bike here [to Sepang 2] and also some components of the Step 2, which we tested on the Step 1. Anyway the layout, the basic configuration of the Step 1, is still the best,” Aprilia Racing manager Romano Albesiano told

“The overall balance of the Step 1 bike is very good. Okay, we couldn't improve with the Step 2 but we are quite satisfied anyway because the Step 1 bike is working well. We believe it's a good base for starting the season.

“Now we will make some improvements from what we learned here, but details. For example the Step 1 fuel tank is not big enough to finish the race so we have to put some more fuel somewhere. It was a real laboratory bike! We will find some extra room for the fuel, prepare all the parts and go racing.”

The Italian added: “It looks like we are very good on handling. We are losing something on the straights and exiting the corners because, okay for sure we have less power compared to the best competitors, but also we have to tune our traction control. The time we are losing on the exit is much more than the power gap alone would explain.”

Indeed, Albesiano is satisfied with the output of Aprilia's new, pneumatic-valve, powerplant and initial engine updates will focus on reliability rather than performance. The seamless gearbox “we are testing at home. It's promising but not ready yet.”

Bautista improved from 21st and 3.057s behind the best lap time at the first Malaysian test to 19th and 2.195s from Honda's Marc Marquez at the second test.

“Alvaro is really happy with the front especially,” Albesiano said. “Looking at him on the racetrack is fantastic. He looks very comfortable. We still have many things to improve. Some engine brake but the traction - as I mentioned before - the drive out of the corner is where we lose most.”

Meanwhile Melandri, returning to MotoGP after four years in the World Superbike championship, was left at the very bottom of the timesheets.

“Marco still has not reached a good confidence with the bike,” Albesiano said. “We have tried many, many things! We brought the Superbike [RSV4] because we wanted him to ride something he knew very well and kind of restart. He had some positive feeing but it is not the way. So we are still struggling!”

Aprilia's MotoGP machine is based on its World, Superbike title-winning RSV4. If Melandri still wasn't comfortable on the RSV4, a bike he took to six victories in WSBK last season, does that mean it is the Bridgestone tyres that are the main issue for him?

“Probably it's a big part,” Albesiano replied.

Just three more days of testing, at Qatar this weekend, remain before the start of the racing season.

“Maybe a different track could be better for Marco,” Albesiano added. “At the moment he hasn't the right feeling leaning the bike. The bike has some movement. So we are trying to stabilise the bike in that situation.”

Going into the corners?

“Yes. That is the main point. The turning of the bike is also not what he is looking for. We'll keep trying.”

Melandri, a former MotoGP title runner-up, will start his first grand prix since 2010 at Qatar's Losail circuit on March 29. It will also be Aprilia's first race as a factory entry since 2004.

“I would be very satisfied if we could finish the race between 10th and 15th position. That would be for me perfect,” Albesiano declared.

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Melandri, Sepang MotoGP tests, February 2015
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March 11, 2015 3:15 PM
Last Edited 246 days ago

I really hope this team manages to sort the bike out, Aprilia have always had beautiful road bikes and made amazing 125's and 250 GP bikes but they just havent been able to work it out in the premier class. As for rider selection, Bautista as much as he crashes is not as bad as most people think. He should have been better but just needs to work on consistency. I think he is a good fit for the Aprilia because he can be fast but also slow on other days, on the fast days we can judge just about where Aprilia is as he has been on the podium. probably the best they could have asked for other than the Aliens and great riders that already have contracts. As for Melandri, I just feel they made a big mistake, he is a great rider, would never take anything away from him but he isnt the right fit for this, Much better would have been to grab someone like Laverty or a Moto2 rider, once the bike settles then see if Melandri is interested but he would have been better off in WSBK.


March 11, 2015 3:45 PM

As the others shave said I don't understand Aprilia's decision in selecting Melandri for Motogp duties. He made it quite clear he wanted to be in WSBK and have a another crack at the title so why force him onto a ride he doesn't want to be on? Melandri isn't the type of rider to hang his balls out for 15th place so he is unlikely to push the bike and therefore unlikely to be much help in developing it. Bautista might be a crasher but he always rides as hard as he can so he should get the best out the bike he can. I don't see Melandri lasting the season in Motogp, I have doubts whether he'll even start for my money I'd draught Torres in from the SBK team that kid is fast and has recent experience of all the motogp circuits. I'd be really keen to see Van Der Mark in Motogp but as he's contracted to Honda I don't see that happening unless it's on a proddie bike. I wish Aprillia all the best with their new Foray into Motogp but I think their choice of rider could seriously hamper their eff

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