26 May 2015
MotoGP Italy: Aprilia confirms seamless gearbox debut
"Our seamless gear shift system will make its debut, available for both our riders"
Aprilia's seamless-shift gearbox will make its MotoGP race debut in the factory's home Italian round at Mugello this weekend.
The gearbox - seamless for both upshifts and downshifts - was declared a 'complete success' when handed to the race team for the post-Jerez test, earlier this month .
Alvaro Bautista even described it as 'not far' from the standard-setting Honda gearbox he raced with during the previous two seasons.
“Mugello... is a particularly important occasion because right here on the Tuscan track our seamless gear shift system will make its debut, available for both our riders,” declared Aprilia Racing manager Romano Albesiano.
“The positive feedback Bautista provided after the tests at Jerez immediately following the Spanish Grand Prix convinced us to speed up development on this solution in order to have it ready to race as soon as possible.”
The seamless gearbox is the latest upgrade for the RS-GP, based on last year's Open class ART bike. An all-new design is being prepared for 2016, the date originally planned for Aprilia's factory return.
But the new gearbox will not be the only development for Mugello.
“As important as the new transmission is, in any case it will not be the only new feature,” Albesiano continued. “We have prepared various changes in terms of aerodynamics and chassis as well with respect to the bike that started off the season. All of this is part of our path of improvement which we hope to successfully move forward at Mugello.”
Bautista has claimed the final point in three of the five races this season.
“At Mugello we'll be taking a lot of technical changes onto the track, beginning with the seamless gearbox that I tested at Jerez with good results, so we are very motivated as we approach this round," said the Spaniard. "We'll also have some other upgrades available in various areas of the bike, so I'm confident that we'll be able to take a big step forward.
"We expect this weekend to be more demanding than usual because we will have a lot of things to test and not much time to do it, but we are ready to work hard. If we manage to find a good setup on a difficult track like Mugello I think this will be helpful to us in the upcoming Grand Prix races as well, so I'm anxious to get onto the track to begin checking the quality of the technical advancements.
"Our main goal is still bike development, although I won't hide the fact that achieving a good result in Aprilia's home Grand Prix would be nice.”
Melandri, yet to score a point this season, did not try the gearbox at Jerez and, having previously departed MotoGP for WSBK at the end of 2010 (before seamless gearboxes were introduced) will be making his debut on the technology this weekend.
“Italians get very excited about the Mugello round, so we always try to achieve that little extra. For us it will be another race in our apprenticeship, although I hope that the new seamless gearbox will provide the advantages we are expecting and consequently allow us to take a step forward," he said.
"Hopefully it will be able to represent a new starting point for us to continue improving, along with changes to the chassis that may help me to achieve more of a feeling with the bike.”
Aprilia's seamless move means Suzuki will be the only manufacturer without the faster and smoother gearshifts. It is not yet clear if Suzuki's seamless will be ready, as hoped, for the following Barcelona round (or post-race test).
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