Aprilia's racing boss Romano Albesiano has stated it is too early in the factory's premier class development to support a satellite team in MotoGP, and believes plans to provide bikes for more than two riders in 2019 are more realistic.

The Italian admitted Aprilia had spoken to 'a couple' of satellite outfits about the possibility of running more than two RS-GPs in '18, as series organiser Dorna pushes for three of the six manufacturers (Aprilia, Suzuki and KTM) to expand their presence on the premier class grid.

However, considering the relatively small size of the Noale factory against several of its competitors, Albesiano admitted this option "wouldn't be so easy", meaning, in all likelihood, Ducati, Honda and Yamaha will be the only factories providing equipment to satellite teams in 2018.

"[We are] talking to a couple of teams," said Albesiano on Monday. "There are positive and negative things in adding a satellite team in this phase of our development. It would be good of course for many reasons.

"But also we are not a big structure, and supporting in a proper way a MotoGP level factory team wouldn't be so easy. So, we are probably considering to not have this next year."

So is '19 a more realistic date for the factory to provide machinery for a satellite team? "For 2019, if things are going like I expect it will be definitely possible," he said.

While the '17 RS-GP has proved a useful tool with plenty of potential in the first seven races of the year, riders Aleix Espargaro and Sam Lowes have been plagued by mechanical issues, that have ruined potentially promising results.

For one, Espargaro retired out of the French and Catalan grand prix with engine issues when holding strong positions in the top ten. "Frustrated. Angry. Pissed off," were just some of the words he used to describe his mood on Sunday evening.

Albesiano explained "small details" were behind the recurring engine issues. "We had the problem in the pneumatic system. We had this problem a couple of times before, so we had to fix it and it happened again unfortunately.

"It's not a matter of redesigning. It's a matter of small details and some strategy. [There are] Some small components in the valves that we have to reconsider. But this part work for long, so now something is happening with that one step. The system is the same as last year. We never had this problem."

Lowes, meanwhile, had his qualifying hopes dashed by "stupid electrical problems". "Electric," came Albesiano's response when asked what had happened on Saturday. "A sequence of stupid electrical problems. It was difficult to understand. But now nothing was really broken, but the bike could not start, so we lost a lot of time, unfortunately."

The disappointment felt by Espargaro's retirement on Sunday was compounded by a strong showing at the post-race test on Monday, where he posted the fifth fastest time, and showed consistency that suggests he would have challenged the top six.

Asked where he could have finished, had those engine gremlins not appeared, Albesiano said, "I don't know. If I take the lap time he did this morning... It would have been a good race. For us it's been anyway a very positive weekend because we got the best qualifying ever for Aprilia MotoGP.

"He did everything perfectly. We did almost everything. It's just a matter to get the potential, and then if we are strong we will be there."

Espargaro also responded to rumours linking several names to Lowes' seat for 2018. Although the Englishman has a contract with Aprilia for next year, the factory has sounded out "some riders" in case there is no improvement.

"I read something about my team-mate for next year, I was very angry," Espargaro said on Saturday. "It's race five or race six and I think we need to have more respect for a rider that last season won races [in Moto2]. We cannot forget these things in just fucking three months.

"We need to have more respect, we need to give more time to Sam - he's a talented rider. If we arrive in Valencia and his results are still not competitive, you can think about something, but not in June."

By Neil Morrison

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Good on Aleix for sticking up for his teammate!

Putting aside the question of whether Sam should keep his ride or not, I think it speaks very highly of Aleix's integrity as a person that he should come out in support of his team mate, even if that means criticising his employers.

Matt2:
TrueFan: Bravo Aleix. Well said. People ought to show some respect.
[\blockquote]
How much time? He already started testing Motogp bike in 2015. Well before any other 2017 rookies got even thir first eyefull of their contracts. He has better tire, better bike than last years riders, and he still loses even compared to them. He is constantly slower than the two guys year before, taking account Lowes crashes every other race.
2016
3 riders inside 44min
Bautista 45:20
Bradl 45:32

2017
7 riders in 44min
Lowes 45:37
You cant be seconds off your teammate, as he contantly is. You cant be LAST rider in race with Aprilia. You cant loose Guintoli on Suzuki with very limited dry time on hes belt. He needs to show some results and at the moment he is showing none.
[\blockquote]
Sam's first test was last year, on a different bike factory boys were riding at the time.. In last race he was faster than Bradl until last 8 laps, lost time due to electrical problems

Bravo Aleix. Well said. People ought to show some respect.

Aprilia is having some teething problems, but they have also shown that (a) this bike has real potential, and (b) Aleix has posted surprisingly competitive laps on it when it hangs together.

People need to wait and see with Lowes. He's a very good rider, but Aprilia have issues to sort out at this point. They might be relatively new to MotoGP, but they are not new to racing. Give this a little time.

TrueFan: Bravo Aleix. Well said. People ought to show some respect.
[\blockquote]
How much time? He already started testing Motogp bike in 2015. Well before any other 2017 rookies got even thir first eyefull of their contracts. He has better tire, better bike than last years riders, and he still loses even compared to them. He is constantly slower than the two guys year before, taking account Lowes crashes every other race.
2016
3 riders inside 44min
Bautista 45:20
Bradl 45:32

2017
7 riders in 44min
Lowes 45:37
You cant be seconds off your teammate, as he contantly is. You cant be LAST rider in race with Aprilia. You cant loose Guintoli on Suzuki with very limited dry time on hes belt. He needs to show some results and at the moment he is showing none.

Matt2:
TrueFan: Bravo Aleix. Well said. People ought to show some respect.
[\blockquote]
How much time? He already started testing Motogp bike in 2015. Well before any other 2017 rookies got even thir first eyefull of their contracts. He has better tire, better bike than last years riders, and he still loses even compared to them. He is constantly slower than the two guys year before, taking account Lowes crashes every other race.
2016
3 riders inside 44min
Bautista 45:20
Bradl 45:32

2017
7 riders in 44min
Lowes 45:37
You cant be seconds off your teammate, as he contantly is. You cant be LAST rider in race with Aprilia. You cant loose Guintoli on Suzuki with very limited dry time on hes belt. He needs to show some results and at the moment he is showing none.[\blockquote]

All that might be true if he was on equal machinery to Espargaro but he isn't and when the factory team snipes at one of its own riders and ignores the fact that it can't get either of his machines to run during qualifying practice until minutes from the end of the period you start to wonder where the real performance deficit is.........seeing someone being a whipping boy is never pleasant

I think Much higher of Aleix after reading his defense of Sam. He's right, Sam was very fast in Moto2 when electronics weren't involved and he won on the Speed-up bike that only won one race with Ant West in the rain before Lowes made the bike look much better than it really was. Now he's on a bike making him look worse than he really is. He would be an absolute demon in BSB with those electronics but he deserves a proper shot in Motogp before we send him off.

Romano makes me so angry. For Gods sake man, you don't have equipment at present that you can sell to a prospective satellite team. If I am a team boss looking for a bike, so far this year I have seen:

Aleix lose umpteen engines when the potential is there for great results
Sam sat in the pits last time with no bike - electric? What, both bikes??
Various articles where the team are slating the riders and progress made.

I also see increased frustration on both riders faces when they cannot perform in the sport they love.

Right now, I wouldn't pick Aprilia. Not consistant enough.

Hats off to Aleix for defending Sam too.

To be honest I did not think much of Aleix even while he was on Suzuki but I have become a fan while he has been riding Aprilia. Just to look at the path he has traveled to get where he is: 125cc to 250cc to MotoGP to Moto2, then back to MotoGP second rate teams ART and Forward Yamaha, before finally landing factory contracts with Suzuki and Aprilia. 12 years from the start before getting a factory gig or even a "proper" satellite seat (I don't count Pramac of 2010 as proper).

Too often it seems current riders either shoot up straight away or are stuck in satellite teams forever. Aleix shows that with hard work you can also go down in between. For instance Tom Luthi said he was given MotoGP opportunity but he turned it down because he'd have been racing for top 10 result maximum. He didn't want to put in the hard work. Luckily Aleix did.