How good is the new Aprilia seamless shift MotoGP gearbox?

According to Alvaro Bautista it is 'not far' from the standard-setting Honda version he raced for the previous two seasons.

The Aprilia version - featuring both seamless upshifts and downshifts - was handed to Bautista for the first time during Monday's test at Jerez, when the Spaniard set an impressive eleventh fastest lap time.

"I'm so happy with the first feeling because I rode with the Honda seamless and this is not too far from it," he declared. "On downshift we have to improve a little bit, but to [upshift] on the straight is quite similar to Honda.

"We have to improve in the braking because with the Honda it was easier to stop the bike. It was like it helped me more with the engine braking.

"But I can say I am happy because the gearbox is already 7 or 8 out of 10. It is at a quite good level. I was really surprised with the feeling because I didn't expect it would be this good.

"From the first exit I could feel a big difference compared to the standard gearbox. It helps to keep a good rhythm because, especially when the tyre is used, the bike is more stable when I shift.

"As I said, the gearbox was not perfect but the lap time was pretty close to qualifying and my feeling is good. I would like it to use it at the next race, but it is impossible!"

Aprilia Racing manager Romano Albesiano hopes that the new gearbox can make its race debut within the next two to three rounds - a timetable Bautista agrees is feasible.

"They haven't got all the materials, all the [parts]. From now they will work really hard to have it ready to race as soon as possible, but I think it will not be before Mugello [end of May]."

Aprilia and Suzuki, both making their factory return to MotoGP this season, are the only manufacturers racing without a seamless shift gearbox. Suzuki is also developing its version of the technology, which it is rumoured will reach the race team in June.

While Bautista worked with on gearbox, team-mate Marco Melandri tried a new frame and swingarm for the fast-evolving RS-GP.



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