This just in from Aprilia:
GOOD RACE PREPARATION FOR THE APRILIA RS-GP MACHINES AT DOHA
ALEIX ESPARGARÓ HAS A FAST PACE, SAM LOWES CONTINUES TO IMPROVE
The second day of practice in Qatar had the MotoGP riders busy in the last two sessions valid for qualifying, focused both on preparing for the race and trying to go through directly to Q2.
Speaking of pace and consistency on used tyres, Aleix Espargaró has something to feel confident about. The Spanish rider found a good base setting, confirmed by his time on a long run taken during FP3 where he finished in tenth place. Taking full advantage of his Aprilia RS-GP’s potential on the flying lap with new tyres, on the other hand, proved to be more complicated for Aleix, a condition where he improved his performance but not enough to go straight through to Q2. His 1’55.634 in FP3 earned him a spot in the top 10, 8 tenths behind the best rider of the session.
Sam Lowes and his team were hard at work in the garage, shaving more than a second off their times from yesterday and finishing today’s two sessions with a best time of 1’56.854 (1’57.887 in FP1). The Aprilia Racing Team Gresini rookie tried various setup solutions on the 2017 RS-GP that he began using in the last tests right here in Qatar. The assessments made today will allow the English rider to prepare for his first MotoGP race in the best possible way, with the stated goal of aiming for the points zone.
“I am rather satisfied with my race pace and the bike’s settings. Compared to the first session we were able to take a clear step forward. We worked especially on the front, which is where I was not very confident in FP2, and in FP3 I was able to ride a lot better. As for pace, we are at a good level, not too far from the best, whereas I struggled more with being incisive on the new tyre. It is something we need to figure out. We can definitely improve in this area. Track conditions today were not comparable to those of the tests. I found a lot less grip. With respect to the forecast, which called for rain, we can consider ourselves lucky.”
“Yesterday was not a very encouraging start, with the mistake in the opening laps that conditioned our session, but today we got in some good practice. We were able to work on the 2017 RS-GP, trying different solutions, especially trying to understand the reactions of the front wheel in different load conditions in order to identify which direction to go. With the data collected today, we will be able to set up our FP4 well to be ready for the race. To be honest, I prefer spending a few laps doing checks and experiments during practice, but having a good setup for Sunday and that is what we managed to do.”