Oliveira: Aprilia ‘more sensitive’ than KTM, Ducati ‘accelerates faster’

Miguel Oliveira says the transition from KTM to Aprilia remains an ongoing process ahead of the MotoGP season-opener.
Miguel Oliveira, RNF Aprilia MotoGP Portimao 2023
Miguel Oliveira, RNF Aprilia MotoGP Portimao 2023

Calling the Aprilia a more ‘sensitive’ bike than the RC16 he rode from 2019 until the end of 2022, hasn’t stopped the five-time MotoGP race winner from being one of the most impressive riders during pre-season testing. 

Oliveira had been a key cog in KTM’s rise to being challengers for MotoGP wins, and while another hugely talented rider in Jack Miller has stepped in to replace the Portuguese rider, the Austrian manufacturer’s loss already appears to be a big gain for Aprilia. 

But will it be enough alongside Aleix Espargaro, Maverick Vinales and new teammate Raul Fernandez to compete against Ducati? That remains the big question heading into this weekend at Portimao.

"I would like to have the answer," said Oliveira when speaking after RNF Aprilia’s team launch. "It would be fantastic after five days of testing with the Aprilia if I already knew what was missing. Ducati is a strong bike. They stop well, they turn better, they accelerate faster. 

"For sure, they have their weak points but as they are at the moment it is very difficult for them to show which weakness they have. 

"It’s quite hard to say to you where we need to go faster and where we need the bike to become closer to the Ducatis. I need to wait a bit more to make this conclusion. 

"I think testing is a bit misleading but I’m not excluding that Ducati will be very competitive because they have very good packages in every team and every rider - they don’t have any [new] riders except Alex Marquez. 

"I think that the season can play a little bit differently in terms of dominance, that’s what I hope, and as it goes on and on we will have a more clear idea on where to work to be better."

Is ‘more sensitive’ better?

After four years aboard KTM machinery, Oliveira has known only one style of bike in MotoGP.


That can have both positives and negatives attached to it as knowing the strengths and weaknesses of a bike and the experience you gain can be invaluable, but what it can do is set a rider up with habits that they bring to their new machine.

When talking about the differences between the Aprilia and KTM, Oliveira said: "I already told this before but the bike is much more sensitive. I think the frame is one reason. It’s a very sensitive bike that I had to adjust my riding for it. On the rear brake, on the throttle opening, the brakes, it’s very sensitive so you have to take everything in a certain way. 

"Before I was used to something else. With this bike you cannot be that aggressive. You need to understand the bike a bit to take the bike to work in a certain way. 

"I’m trying to understand the bike and where or how to push. This is something only time and experience can give. If you jump from another category to this bike I think it’s a completely different story. 

"But when you jump to this bike after being on different MotoGP bikes with different engine characters then it becomes more difficult to get this mental adjustment."

That’s a current rider’s view on how the Aprilia is different and the challenges that are involved, however, Oliveira’s Team Manager, Wilco Zeelenberg, who is a former rider himself went into detail about the problem Oliveira could face at circuits where there was limited success with the KTM.  

"We have been investingating the boys and overall, if you’re able to win races like Miguel has - but track-by-track it’s not so easy to perform and be able to put the bike in every circumstance on the podium." added Zeelenberg. 

"This is an area that we have already investigated track-by-track, especially for Miguel because he already has some very strong race tracks but there are some race tracks where we need to focus and put more attention on where he can make the lap time. 

"Of course, with four years riding the KTM it has brought him some bad habits because you get into the rhythm where a bike is lacking performance and you also struggle to perform on the new bike because you don’t have the correct feeling or connection in that area because you have been punished a few times."

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