They may be running behind schedule, but Aprilia’s technical chief Romano Albesiano is sure the factory’s 2018 MotoGP engine will deliver more power to its riders once it is introduced to its riders for the first race of the year, while featuring a “more robust concept" that what has been used until now.

Factory runners Aleix Espargaro and Scott Redding both had an ’18 spec RS-GP apiece at recent tests in Malaysia and Thailand, albeit fitted with a year-old engine, which they felt was found wanting as they accelerated onto the Chang International Circuit’s considerable straights.

Espargaro claimed day three in Thailand “was one of the days when I put in more effort in my time with Aprilia,” but found he couldn’t overcompensate for his current bike’s lack of grunt on the exit of low gear corners.

“The top speed is not a problem for me but the acceleration from first to third we are losing quite a lot,” he surmised while citing a host of electronics changes he made in a bit to limit the time lost in the Buriram track’s opening two sectors.

Speaking to Crash.net, Albesiano confirmed the facotry is running behind with preseason preparations, but revealed it has already tested certain “components” that will be part of the newest engine, with particular attention also going into the RS-GP’s latest airbox and injection system.

“The real spec will arrive for the [first] race [of 2018],” Albesiano said in Thailand. “We are testing some components of the race engine here and we will do that in Qatar too. But the real engine will arrive by the race.

“[Before then it will have] Some mileage. We have also the engine but what is around the engine is also very important. The airbox, the injection system, we are continuously developing these things. Again, we’re testing them here and, again, we will do that in Qatar.”

The Italian remains confident that the new motor will not only partly compensate for the current lack of acceleration, but will address the reliability issues that regularly made themselves known through 2017.

“[We’re expecting] Some improvements, yes, but there are some areas that we need to think of in terms of the championship. The most important thing will be to always be ready from a mapping point of view.

“[It is important] not to waste time during the practice with mapping regulations and to have a very constant engine with the mileage. We will have a point where we will make a step this year. And some more power, of course. I would call it optimisation’ and a more robust concept. “

Other than the lack of acceleration, Espargaro was complimentary of the changes to the lighter ’18 RS-GP. In the serpentine third and fourth sectors of the Chang International Circuit, he was able to confirm the new machine turns better and is more agile than last year’s model.

“I think the feeling of the rider is very positive,” confirmed Albesiano. “It’s difficult to improve a bike which had the level we showed last year. Also turning with brakes is better than before. [There are] Some positive points that are quite important.

“We don’t have a huge database in MotoGP to do so. It looks like we did it so we are quite happy, yes.”

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