11 February 2016
MotoGP: ‘Tight schedule’ for new Aprilia
“We'll start probably not with 10kg less, but we will get the 10kg about mid-season for sure” - Romano Albesiano, Aprilia.
Aprilia Racing manager Romano Albesiano admits the factory's all-new RS-GP is facing a tight development schedule ahead of the opening 2016 MotoGP race in Qatar.
The new machine, which will replace the current superbike-based design, is currently undergoing a shakedown with test rider Mike di Meglio at Aragon.
But Aprilia has been planning a proper prototype since early last season, so why the delay?
The answer is twofold; first the factory decided to alter its plans and switch to a counter-rotating crankshaft for the new engine, a technique used by Yamaha and (it is believed) Ducati.
A counter-rotating crankshaft makes a bike more agile by working against the gyroscopic effect of the wheels, but saps some engine performance due to the need for an extra output shaft.
The second reason for the belated debut is the late delivery of some supplier parts.
“We had some delay. This is normal in racing. Some suppliers were delayed. So we have a very tight schedule [for the new bike] now. But still feasible and I would say under control. We will bring the new bikes to Doha for a private test in three weeks,” Albesiano said, adding that the first dyno run for the new engine took place between Christmas and New Year, around four weeks later than planned.
“When you are late in the schedule you cross your fingers not to have any big problems [on the dyno]. So far there have only been very slight problems.”
Albesiano has also set the ambitious target of making the new RS-GP 10kg lighter than its predecessor: “We'll start probably not with 10kg less, but we will get the 10kg about mid-season for sure.”
With Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista made to wait for their 2016 race bikes, the pair focussed on tyre and electronic work using last year's machines at the recent Sepang test.
“For me the most important task [was] to give the riders confidence with the tyres,” Albesiano said.
“With the new electronics, it is just a matter of work. The system has so many parameters to fix and we are still testing different philosophies, for the traction control for example.
“But that is not the main problem. We will fix any issues, maybe a week or a race later... But if you lose confidence in the tyre, we lose the season.”
As a result of the revised RS-GP schedule, Bradl and Bautista will skip next week's Phillip Island outing and instead make their debut on the new bike during the private test in Qatar.
“We will bring two new 2016 machines, one for each for Stefan and Alvaro,” Albesiano confirmed.
Aprilia, like Suzuki, are allowed extra testing opportunities and exemption from the MotoGP engine development freeze until they reach six 'Concession Points', awarded for podium finishes.
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