Aprilia race boss Romano Albesiano has set his sights on achieving top five results at certain MotoGP races in 2017, and feels certain set-up changes have led to the performance of the RS-GP taking a significant step forward.

Albesiano, stood next to Sam Lowes in the above photo, said he was "very satisfied" with the performance of the 2017 machine at preseason tests in Malaysia and Australia, when speaking during the factory's MotoGP presentation in Noale.

Factory engineers had experimented with the balance of the bike over the winter months, he revealed, shifting the central weight of the bike around to good effect. As a result, he feels Aprilia has a real chance of securing a top ten place in the rider's world championship.

"The objective of Aprilia is not just participating," said Albesiano. "We want to win. In the past two years we've achieved all of our objectives. This year's are to be in the first ten.

"Actually we're aiming for the top five. Then we'll see what happens. This season seems to be a little difficult. The times are very close. You have to be perfect in everything you do. It would be way too easy to go down.

"The start of last season was hard and we are aware of that. During the season we understood it a little better. We balanced it better and found some better set-up solutions.

"Day-by-day the engine grew because by the end we had good engine performance. The acceleration was good. The 2017 motorbike is a development of the '16 machine.

"As we saw in the Valencia test it's not easy to take a step forward. It's easier to get confused and mixed up so we made a change, mostly in the substitution of masses.

"We tried to concentrate the mass more to embrace all dynamic situations. Like moving the very centre [of the bike] a little bit and the tests [in Sepang and Phillip Island] confirmed that the bike has taken a step forward.

"We cannot make any further big changes, but this was a big step forward and we're very satisfied with it. We've grown. Of course there is still room for improvement."

The factory's 2017 line-up sees the experienced Aleix Espargaro team up with class rookie, and Moto2 race winner, Sam Lowes.

Until now, the Englishman has used the '16 machine in a bid to get up to speed on a 260bhp racer, while Espargaro has ploughed on with development for the '17 bike.

While the performances of both riders have been pleasing, Albesiano revealed his mild surprise at Espargaro's feedback when he first tested the machine in Valencia in November.

"He [Espargaro] tried the motorbike for the first time at the end of 2016. It was fundamental because you need to get feedback from the rider.

"The motorbike provided great results last year. It was extremely useful and surprisingly positive. We didn't believe that we would achieve those results.

"Sam comes from Moto2 so he couldn't give feedback but his opinion was still very important to us. He's such a sensitive rider. He's at a different stage in his career."

With the final preseason test less than a week away, Albesiano is all-too-aware what the bike needs to improve further: more power.

"Now we're trying to get more power because power will get us results," he said. "Aleix wants different electronics than Bautista, who rode before him. He uses the motorbike differently.

"We need to understand better these situations in terms of race pace, for example, how the bike wears the tyres and how constant the performance is during the race. This will be the test."



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