Eugene Laverty has spoken of his early impressions of Aprilia's RSV4 Superbike after his second day of testing with the Milwaukee-backed SMR team at Jerez, believing the package “has definitely improved” since he last competed aboard it.
The Northern Irishman could last be seen riding the machine at the close of the 2013 season at this track. In the subsequent years, Laverty feels strides have been made with the bike's electronics, making it “more manageable” with used tyres.
Although the Jerez track was wet throughout Monday and much of Tuesday, with riders only able to gain semi-dry track time on the second afternoon, Laverty was still able to make a sound assessment of the package.
“It's definitely improved,” he said on Tuesday evening after posting a fastest time of 1m 43.1s.
"“The guys had told me that, they'd made a big step in 2014. And you could see it that year when Sylvain [Guintoli] and Marco [Melandri] were dominating those lot of rounds. It looked like they'd made a big step with the bike, it looked a lot easier to ride, and it definitely is.
“It was always good and it looked after the tyres well, but it could still be difficult towards the end of the races, it became more of a handful. And now the bike, I'd be happy to go out and do a 20-lap run, whereas three years ago I might have tried to dodge that in testing, it used sap the energy out of you.
“Now the bike's much more manageable. Electronics, engine character. Chassis-wise, the setting isn't that far off what we were using back then. So it seems like they've made a big step with the electronics.”
While the first two days were spent acclimatising to the bike, Laverty has two new engine specs and some chassis parts to test on Wednesday.
“I think we got 45 laps today, with 40-odd laps in relatively dry conditions, so that's a big bonus. So we're just putting a plan together for tomorrow, to try the engine, a few different chassis things. We're more than ready to do that.
“The main thing is a few things the Aprilia guys want to see through, that's got to be the priority. So we'll focus on that. Today, we didn't want to put that in without the track being 100%.
“It's not really a fair evaluation. Better to do it tomorrow, and that's helpful for them to go into the winter and make a decision to make on what to do for 2017.
“Those are the main things, and we'll probably be trying to get through them fairly early, because I feel fairly up to pace, I think the lap time is not that far away considering the damp patches. So we can do them early on and then try to improve the chassis setting, and then hope go quicker later as well.”