Raul Fernandez: “I jumped on the new Aprilia and was fast, fast, fast!”

Instantly quick on his debut with the 2023 Aprilia, Raul Fernandez - and Trackhouse team-mate Miguel Oliveira - might yet have 2024 machines for the Sepang MotoGP test.
Raul Fernandez, Aprilia MotoGP Valencia 2023
Raul Fernandez, Aprilia MotoGP Valencia 2023

With Cryptodata RNF in turmoil, and Oliveira sidelined by injury, Fernandez was run by the Aprilia test team for his debut on the 2023 RS-GP at the Valencia MotoGP test.

“Fast” throughout the day, the Spaniard eventually finished in fifth place, just 0.263s from test leader and factory Aprilia rider Maverick Vinales.

“We started with the old [2022 bike] and immediately we were more or less on the lap times, on my pace from my race. But when I jumped to the new [2023] bike, I started to be fast, fast, fast and I don’t understand very well why!” Fernandez said.

While Espargaro and Vinales have described the 2023 bike as only a small evolution of the factory’s 2022 machine, Fernandez felt a clear improvement.

“I was close to one second faster in term of pace,” he said. “I could feel it. Also we saw on the data!”

“The front part,” was the biggest improvement for Fernandez, who took a career best fifth place in the Valencia finale.

“In terms of aerodynamics they did a step. I feel more feedback from the front. I can attack more on the entry of the corners.

“In general. I felt really, really comfortable with the bike. I feel that Aprilia worked very well with that bike.”

Fernandez also felt there was a clear area for further progress.

“I don't like especially when I touch the gas, because it’s quite difficult to turn the bike. It’s not a big problem, but maybe that is where we have to improve to be closer to Ducati. But in general I feel really good and the pace was there.”

Trackhouse Racing MotoGP
Trackhouse Racing MotoGP

Trackhouse seeking 2024 Aprilias for Fernandez, Oliveira

Shortly after the test, it was officially confirmed that Trackhouse will take over Aprilia’s satellite project.

But rather than running year-old machines, team owner Justin Marks is setting his sights on securing the very latest 2024 RS-GPs, as used by factory riders Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales.

“I'm putting pressure on us to get 2024 material,” Marks told Speedweek.com. “I want to get our two riders the same equipment that Maverick and Aleix have. That would [also] help Aprilia's overall efforts.

“We don't want to do it cheaply. We want to leave a good impression, be a strong customer team and work very closely with the factory.”

Oliveira, who missed Valencia due to shoulder injuries in Qatar, will make his return at the Sepang test in early February.

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