Espargaro a second quicker with new RS-GP22, ‘but let’s see if it’s enough’

Aleix Espargaro claims the new RS-GP22 is a second faster than the last Aprilia MotoGP bike he rode at Sepang, 'but let’s see if it’s enough'.
Aleix Espargaro , Sepang MotoGP test, 6 February 2022
Aleix Espargaro , Sepang MotoGP test, 6 February 2022
© Gold and Goose Photography

Aleix Espargaro has finished the official Sepang MotoGP test as one of two riders to break the unofficial lap record as he claimed P2.  

After topping day-one of the official Sepang MotoGP test, Espargaro joined Gresini Ducati rider Enea Bastianini in clocking a lap time underneath Danilo Petrucci’s previous 2019 record. 

Espargaro set a 1:58.157s which was just under a tenth quicker than Petrucci’s time, while +0.026s behind Bastianini. 

Espargaro’s impressive lap time came during a qualifying simulation, however, the Aprilia rider also completed a 12 lap race run in order to analyse the difference between this year’s modified RS-GP22 and the 21 bike.

"I requested to do a long run to see how the bike reacts and during the long run I did 12 laps," said Espargaro. "You could see the difference between this year’s bike and last year’s bike. Just pushing for one lap the (new) bike is better, it turns more and the engine is a little bit stronger. 

"But you cannot feel a huge difference during a race simulation and the way it affects the tyre is also different. 

"I arrive more into the corner because of the corner speed that the bike allows me to do. Also the way that the tyre decreases and the construction of the tyre is a bit different. So it’s interesting to put more laps onto it and see in the next test how it’s going.

"My race simulation is a lot faster this year and the tyres are basically the same. The race simulation is around half a second faster than 2020 I think. The fast lap is almost a full second faster which means we have improved. But let’s see if it’s going to be enough."

Although Espargaro alluded to not feeling a huge difference, there were clear areas where the new bike is better, particularly when it comes to turning. 

It must however be noted that not everything has been a clear step forward as Espargaro continues to deal with ‘chatter’ problems, while the engine power is still ‘not enough’.

Espargaro added: "It’s better! The bike is definitely better. Whether it’s enough or not… we will see during the races. This is something our rivals will tell us. 

"The best thing is the turning. The bike is more narrow and they (Aprilia) did a good job because it’s not easy with these bikes because the brakes, electronics, many things are very complex and it’s not easy to reduce and put everything in the chassis. They did a good job. 

"The bike is not a revolution, it’s a continuation of the RS-GP21 but more narrow and more agile. 

"What we have to improve is still chattering. I have a lot of chatter at the moment. Here in Malaysia in 2020 I remember having chattering, so chattering is something we need to improve. 

"And as I always say in the modern MotoGP era you need power. The engine is a little bit stronger than last year but not enough."

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