Aleix Espargaro believes Piaggio, Aprilia’s parent company, could invest the resources necessary to turn its MotoGP project into one capable of competing with the likes of Honda and Ducati, but admits this is out of his control.

The recently turned 30-year old was responding to a quote from technical chief Romano Albesiano, in which the Italian told website GPone.com, “there are some areas [in the project] where objectively there aren’t many [resources], but there have also been some high-level insertions.”

Espargaro has regularly cut a frustrated figure through 2019, as his efforts to close the gap to the top six haven’t quite come off.

From Mugello he noted the lack of new parts coming his way and even though he has a new chassis and swingarm to try on Monday at Brno, his race package will not differ from what he rode at the Sachsenring last month.

“I don’t have much to say about this. Really I don’t know the budget we have, or the budget Honda or Ducati has. The only thing I know is Piaggio is a very, very big group that can have the same – or more – money than our rivals so we have to decide what to do for next year.

“I think we’re big enough to spend what we want. But this is not in my hands; this is more related to Romano and Massimo [Rivola – Aprilia Racing CEO].”

On his package for the Czech Grand Prix, Espargaro explained, “It’s very important this second part of the season so we are able to improve the bike and understand exactly which direction we want to go next season. It’s quite easy to say, ‘We’re going to change completely the bike.’ But in which direction? What are the goals?

“This is important to understand. We have a test on Monday. We have a frame and a swingarm to try. I don’t think it will change my life but at least it will change my life. We will see.”

In Albesiano’s interview with GPone.com he also said Aprilia may opt for the ‘revolutionary’ option with regards to the development of the 2020 RS-GP, rather than an ‘evolutionary’ step.

Does Espargaro agree? “He’s the boss engineer,” he said. “When he says 100% new maybe we just change everything a little bit and that means everything is new, even if the change won’t be so big.

“Obviously from ’17 to ’18 we changed everything on the bike and it was a complete disaster. Now maybe we change and it won’t be. You never know. The base of the RS-GP ’19 is much better than the previous ones.

“If we change everything a little bit it’s a completely new bike but it might not be a revolution. They are working hard on a new engine spec. Also on a new frame with a different rigidity.

“We also have to change the aerodynamics to have more weight on the front to accelerate more. I understood the interview. We need to change the bike completely if we want to be on the same level as our rivals.”

Looking toward the final ten races of the year, the Catalan identified poor qualifying performances as a clear area upon which to improve.

“So with the bike that I have the most important thing is to try and improve in the qualifying. I don’t think there are many riders that are very strong on Saturday but then in the race are a lot better than us.

“A couple of Honda riders, a few Ducatis, a few Yamahas – they are very strong on Saturday but when you analyse the race pace, after five laps is very similar to mine. To start every race from P14 or P17 is very difficult.

“Our goal is to start in the first four rows because from there I think we can do an interesting race and fight for the top ten. I don’t think fighting for the top ten is impossible.

“I have the same question as you [why we can’t qualify well]; I don’t know. Every time I put low fuel I have small chattering. Every time. In the past I remember with Suzuki and with other riders comments they said when they put the full tank it makes the bike heavier and they cannot turn.

“Me it’s the opposite. When I have a full tank the bike feels good, it turns well and I have no chattering. When we reduce the fuel for qualifying I have problems. But with full tank the bike accelerates less and is slower to move.

“We’re trying to find a compromise. Also it looks like in the race we use the same power than in qualifying and we are closer to the top guys. But for them, when they put everything and destroy the rear tyre in two laps, they are competitive.

“I can’t. I can’t maintain it for one lap. It’s good for Sunday but bad for Saturday.”

 

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