Eugene Laverty was pleased with many aspects of and changes to Aprilia's RSV4 RF Superbike on Tuesday at Jerez, but found limits with the turning of the machine and at the close of the day admitted “you can't be content to be two seconds off.”
With all the major World Superbike players present in Andalusia, Laverty was eleventh at the close of the day, his fastest lap time 1.9s off pace setter and reigning world champion Jonathan Rea.
A new fuel tank and factory Aprilia electronics were among the items on Laverty's test list, and while he was happy with both, he feels chassis and geometry changes will allow him to close the gap to the front.
“There were quite a few changes compared to when I rode it in November,” said the Northern Irishman of his first testing experience of the season.
“It took a bit of time to get dialled in. It was a positive end to the day. I woud say we are back to where we were at the last test. We've arrived at the same problem. We know what we need tomorrow.
“We're struggling to get the bike stopped and turned. It feels like it's pushing the front a lot so that's a direction we need to improve on tomorrow to get some lap times.
“The test here a few months ago I was happy to get that wet weather riding because I was able to get that ticked off. I was back on the Pirelli wets again and I felt great. In the dry we're still not there. We need this dry time. The last time we only had one dry day.
“To get where we are we've had one dry day again and we need to really work hard tonight and tomorrow to chase down those guys. To be two seconds off… We need to be within a second. For testing you can't be content with being two seconds off. We need to be in range of them and feeling more comfortable.
“It is braking, mainly in the last part and getting the thing stopped and turned. I'm really struggling in that area. That's just chassis-wise, geometry… The electronics are working well. There's a lot of different ways to approach it but it's pretty clear what we need to do – to get some weight off the front to help with my riding style.”
Elaborating on Aprilia's electronics, Laverty complimented their ability to aid tyre conservation, and added that, sitting above a more compact fuel tank, the RSV4 RF now feels like “a proper little race bike.”
"It feels great and natural. The guys had it dialled right away. Even with the test we had [in Jerez] at the end of the year, being back with the Aprilia electronics, it's incredible what they can do.
"I love that feeling, the way they allow me to slide the rear tyre a little bit without using it. It just seems to work well with my style. Even at the test a few months ago I felt back at home and able to use my strength again.
“It [new fuel tank] feels neater. For me the fuel tank is an important thing. That's where the rider is sat around. It gives you the impression of the size of the bike so it feels smaller definitely. It makes it easier to move around it. That's the nice thing that they've been working on. It's neat, well finished and looks like a proper little race bike.”
Laverty's new team-mate Lorenzo Savadori was seventh fastest at the close of day one.