Aleix Espargaro aims to add 2023 Aprilia corner speed to 2024 braking

Aleix Espargaro: 'This is part of the game. You have to find the balance'

Raul Fernandez, Aleix Espargaro
Raul Fernandez, Aleix Espargaro

It’s a puzzle frequently faced by MotoGP manufacturers. To transition from occasional success to competitive across an entire season, it’s often necessary to compromise a strength to address a bigger weakness.

That seems the scenario at Aprilia with big progress in hard braking on the new RS-GP at the cost of some 2023 corner speed.

“If you look at the full calendar then the balance is better,” said Aleix Espargaro. “You can stop the bike better [now] and this was the biggest problem last season.

“[But] on turning last year we were number one. On the final corner [at Mugello] I was on another level and it is not like this anymore.

“But this is part of the game. You have to find the balance [over a season]. Not only in Mugello but in 20-plus races.

“At the fast circuits like here, Barcelona and Silverstone the bike is still very good, but not like last year.”

“The [‘24] bike is a lot heavier,” he explained. “You have more and different downforce and that affects quite a lot the bike and also our [riding] position is a bit different, so we are loading the bike differently.”

Raul Fernandez, Aleix Espargaro
Raul Fernandez, Aleix Espargaro

One solution that Espargaro and Aprilia are pondering is two different base set-ups, to suit either a fast-and-flowing or stop-and-go style of track.

“It is the first time we can think about having two settings: One for more stop-and-go tracks and another to try and not lose a lot on the fast circuits [like] Barcelona, Assen,” he said.

“In Barcelona at corners 13 and 14, I was quite angry because I could not match the speed of the ‘23 and Raul [Fernandez] was better than me in those places.

“But I was faster in corner 1, for example, than in ’23. A lot faster. Also a lot in corner 10 [hard braking at the end of the back straight].

“We are understanding the balance for the future because there is still a lot of the season in front of us.”

While it might be frustrating to lose performance in some places, Aprilia is better off than at this time last year (albeit over a slightly different selection of seven tracks).

Espargaro’s team-mate Maverick Vinales is currently sixth and the top Aprilia rider in the world championship, with Espargaro in eighth. But they were only ninth (Espargaro) and tenth (Vinales) in the standings at this stage last season.

The early improvement is also reflected in the teams’ standings, growing from 108 points (2023) to 182 (2024), as well as the constructors’ championship; 99 (2023) to 138 (2024).

Likewise KTM, 36 points clear of Aprilia in the constructors' after seven rounds last season, is now just two points ahead in the fight for best-of-the-rest behind Ducati.

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