Andrea Iannone is confident of making a positive race debut for Aprilia but concedes there will be a lot to learn in Qatar following intensive winter testing.

Iannone makes his maiden Aprilia bow after moving over from Suzuki this winter, marking his third factory ride in the premier class having competed with Ducati between 2013 and 2016, and partners Aleix Espargaro at the Noale-based team for 2019.

The Italian rider believes he has a steady base set-up with the RS-GP following winter testing and wants to extract the current potential from the bike as he continues to adjust to his new team.

“During the last tests on this track, we worked well, focusing on our priorities in anticipation of the race,” Iannone said. “At the end of the three days, we reached a good base to start from for this weekend.

“I am feeling positive, although keeping my feet on the ground. This is all new to us, so it won’t be a walk in the park, but I am confident that, if we are able to take 100% advantage of the available potential, we’ll be able to start on the right foot.”

Aprilia creates its own history in MotoGP at the 2019 season opener by entering three bikes for the first time with test rider Bradley Smith handed his first wildcard entry.

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Along with a three-pronged attack at the Losail International Circuit, Espargaro is eager to maintain progress gathered from testing at the opening round as Aprilia continues to bulk up its MotoGP efforts in 2019.

Aprilia has secured Massimo Rivola, former Ferrari F1 sporting director, as the team’s new CEO which has in turn freed up technical chief Romano Albesiano to focus solely on the performance aspect of the GS-GP.

“Preparation for the season was positive overall. The new bike is definitely a step forward in the right direction,” Espargaro said. “I found a good feeling and I think there is still margin to work with. Especially in a few areas, we can definitely improve.

“The data collected in the simulations during the tests helped us to understand a lot in terms of the strong and not-so-strong points of the new project. Like every year, I can’t wait to get on the track and start getting down to business.”

 

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