Espargaro encouraged by Aprilia long-run pace at Sepang

Aleix Espargaro has declared himself “satisfied” by Aprilia’s performance in the opening MotoGP pre-season test at Sepang, particularly over a race distance.

Espargaro encouraged by Aprilia long-run pace at Sepang
Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
Sam Lowes, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini

The ex-Suzuki rider ended up 13th fastest both on Wednesday and in the combined classification at the Malaysian track, 0.740s behind pacesetter and former teammate Maverick Vinales (Yamaha).

Espargaro was one of several riders to fall on the final day of running, interrupting a race simulation by crashing the new version of the RS-GP at Turn 15 late on.

“In the end we finished seven tenths from the quickest with a very fast time from Maverick, so we have to be satisfied,” said Espargaro of the test.

“Near the end I did a race simulation, but I only lasted 13 laps with the rear tyre and then I crashed at the final corner. But the pace was not bad.

“I think we are around 12 seconds from the top riders over a race distance, and that's the important thing.”

Aprilia had brought a heavily revised engine to Sepang as part of its 2017 updates, and Espargaro gave positive feedback – while highlighting the new motor still isn’t being used to its full potential.

“We've improved the engine a bit,” added the Spaniard. “We tested a new engine and it works a bit better. We have improved the speed, we have improved the acceleration.

“We are missing a bit more stability under acceleration both with the chassis and the electronics, because the power delivery is not fully linear and we have to improve that because I think the engine has more potential.

“I think we are not using all the power we have because of the problems with the power delivery, but we have improved in terms of speed.”

Aprilia’s second rider Sam Lowes ended up 23rd in the combined Sepang test standings, 1.973s off the pace, albeit riding last year’s bike.

Additional reporting by Oriol Puigdemont

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