"Not bad at all! Finishing in the top ten for the first race is definitely positive. Since I started well, I tried to stay up with the leaders. Our engine is now competitive, especially in the top gears, and I have good speed on the straight, but with the new tyre, I never had good traction. Then, grip started to drop for everyone, I felt very competitive. It’s a shame that we lost a lot of time overtaking Miller, but when I did, I was also able to get past Morbidelli and finish in the top ten. We can build our growth on this good result."
ALEIX IN THE TOP TEN STRAIGHT AWAY AND WITH A NARROW GAP BEHIND THE LEADERS
ANDREA MAINTAINS A GOOD PACE AND EARNS HIS FIRST POINTS WITH APRILIA
BRADLEY, STOPPED BY A CRASH, CONCLUDES A WEEKEND OF HARD WORK ON THE RS-GP
The first round of the season in Qatar ended up being a good weekend for Aprilia Racing Team Gresini, rounding out three days of constant growth with a positive race.
Aleix Espargaró, who had an excellent start in the race, tried to stay with the leading group, but struggled to find grip with the new tyre. Settling in behind the leading group, he gradually improved his performance, maintaining a narrow gap behind the leaders and moving up through the positions, winning the battle for tenth with Morbidelli just on the last lap, containing the gap behind the winning time to just over nine seconds. This is an outstanding result that rewards him for the good race he rode.
For Andrea Iannone, the Qatar race was actually his first “long run” astride the new RS-GP. Andrea, penalised by his seventh-row spot on the starting grid, was unable to stay close to the leaders but, once the group spread out, he settled into a pace worthy of the best placements, moving all the way up to thirteenth. The duel he lost to Lorenzo on the final straight gave him fourteenth place which, in any case, earns him is first championship points and, more importantly, confirms his trend of consistent improvement, precisely the top priority for him and his team at this stage of the season.
Bradley Smith’s race ended early due a to a harmless crash two laps ahead of the chequered flag. This was the first race for the English rider and the test team, and the weekend produced a large amount of data and results from the many tests completed. This data will be valuable material for the next steps in the growth of the 2019 RS-GP, a bike that demonstrated outstanding potential in the Qatar night.
"Overall, it was a positive race. On my début with Aprilia, we finished 14 seconds behind the leader and that means that we worked well. There was no lack of difficulties: on the first turn I lost the left winglet due to contact and that certainly didn’t help. I am pleased, we improve every time we go out onto the track and a team of skilled people who believe in me has my back. These are fundamental ingredients that allow me to be positive. We are on the right path."
"It was not the weekend finale that we expected. As we had already figured during the tests, after the first 5 laps in which I felt very good, we inevitably began to lose ground. During the final laps, I tried to pick up the pace a bit, but I crashed on turn 1. We’ll need to analyse this behaviour well. We have some ideas about it already and we’ll start working on it as early as the next tests in Jerez."