Alvaro Bautista believes Aprilia's MotoGP RS-GP racer is in need of a substantial power upgrade and weight loss, as he attempts to find a way to push the bike to its limits.
The Spaniard scored the machine's best result of the season in Barcelona, with eighth place representing a solid start in just seven races of 2016.
Still, Bautista, who is currently being linked to a move to a satellite Ducati for the following year, feels there are several areas of the bike's performance that can be improved to make his life easier in the second half of the year.
“We have to improve the entry of the corner and try to make the bike turn a bit easier because at the moment we have some problems in that part – the corner entry. Also the grip is not good enough,” explained the 2006 125cc world champion.
“I think if we can improve the entry of the corner and mid-corner the exit with the traction will improve. But we will see.”
According to the Spaniard, another aspect of the machine's performance that could be improved is top speed. Bautista pointed to the numbers recorded through the speed trap during the Barcelona race, in which Aprilias were 14th and 18th fastest, as evidence.
“We need it [more speed]! If you see in Barcelona we were very far from the top speed. We need help from the engine and we also have to reduce the weight of the bike. Right now we are five kilos over the minimum. When you want to reduce the small gaps everything is very important so the weight is very important for us.
Asked when he can feel the need for a lighter machine, Bautista continued, “For stopping the bike, for corner entry, for moving the bike. We need to make the bike a bit lighter.”
Bautista also spoke of the difficulties he faced when attempting to push the machine to its limits. As Barcelona demonstrated, qualifying was a big issue, while maintaining consistency over race distance was manageable.
“In Barcelona we struggle a lot for the flying lap. We were very consistent. In other tracks we were struggling for the flying lap. Our main problem is when we need to push we have a limit with the bike. It's happened in all kind of tracks.
“Then in the race, for the rhythm and the consistency, we are able to be stronger than in qualifying. We have to find why we are struggling to make a flying lap. If you see in all the grids we are toward the back and then in the race we make a lot of positions forward. We have to improve.”
On whether he feels Aprilia is on schedule considering the delays in producing the bike over the winter, he added, “Sure, and also in the first races, where we were competitive for all the race. We miss a lot in the qualifying. If you start more in the front then it's easier in the race. You don't have to push 100 percent in the first lap and overtake other riders. You need more effort to arrive in that position.
“We are very close to the top ten. Maybe earlier than we expected before the season start.”