"Unbelievable" new Aprilia like 2014 Forward Yamaha

Aleix Espargaro says his 2020 Aprilia RS-GP MotoGP bike reminds him of the Forward Yamaha he rode to a podium in 2014, owing to its “unbelievable” smoothness.

"Unbelievable" new Aprilia like 2014 Forward Yamaha

Aprilia enters the new year with a completely overhauled machine, which Espargaro has spent the past week testing for the first time at Sepang at the shakedown and at the official test on Friday.

Espargaro ended Friday’s running just over four tenths off the pace in seventh, and enthused over the bike’s improvements over its predecessor – though admits the RS-GP’s new 90-degree V4 engine is still missing acceleration relative to rival bikes.

“Definitely much better,” he said when asked by Motorsport to compare the 2020 RS-GP to the '19 version.

“Difficult to compare because it’s very new in every single area. The best thing I will say is the turning; when you release the front brake the bike turns a bit more.

“The position of the rider is also much better. The new engine’s character is a lot easier to ride – it’s super electric.

“We’re still missing a lot of acceleration, but overall to be the first day I’m satisfied. I think this bike has a lot more potential.

“But apart from the turning, I would say the general stability and the smoothness of the whole bike is unbelievable.

“It reminds me a little bit of the Forward Yamaha I rode five years ago, and this is very good because I think it was one of the best bikes I ever had. So we are in just the beginning, but we are [heading] in the good way.”

Espargaro managed to score pole position in tricky conditions in 2014 at Assen on the Open class Forward Yamaha, and claimed the only podium for an Open class rider at Aragon later in the season.

Aleix Espargaro, NGM Forward Racing Yamaha

Aleix Espargaro, NGM Forward Racing Yamaha

Photo by: Bridgestone Corporation

Pol: KTM much, much better than last year

Aleix’s brother Pol shadowed him on the Friday timesheets at Sepang by a tenth in eighth, as he too completed his fourth day on the 2020-spec KTM, having likewise taken part in the shakedown.

Having previously struggled at Sepang on the RC16, the younger Espargaro – who first tried the new bike back in November – was buoyed by KTM’s gains, but concedes “20 percent” of the bike needs changes ahead of the first race in Qatar next month.

“We [KTM] are not ones who use a completely brand new bike [each year],” he said. “We prefer to slowly go with new parts and putting everything together.

“I think it’s the safest way to improve the package. We have done quite well, our pace is actually close to last year’s fastest lap here. So we are much, much better than last year.

“We improve from the shakedown by three tenths the record here for a KTM.

“It feels good. I think we are more competitive here than ever in Malaysia, where we struggled.  Engine is better, chassis is better. We need to try some swingarms that we bring here that we have still had no time to test.

“I think all the bike has changed quite a bit, and I think we have some margin still. 20 percent of the bike still needs to change before the first race.” 

Pol Espargaro, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Pol Espargaro, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
1/12

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Pol Espargaro, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Pol Espargaro, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
2/12

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Pol Espargaro, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Pol Espargaro, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
3/12

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Aleix Espargaró, Aprilia Racing
Aleix Espargaró, Aprilia Racing
4/12

Photo by: Aleix Espargaro

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
5/12

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
6/12

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Lorenzo Savadori, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
Lorenzo Savadori, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
7/12

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Brad Binder, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Brad Binder, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
8/12

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Brad Binder, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Brad Binder, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
9/12

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Iker Lecuona, Red Bull KTM Tech 3
Iker Lecuona, Red Bull KTM Tech 3
10/12

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Iker Lecuona, Red Bull KTM Tech 3
Iker Lecuona, Red Bull KTM Tech 3
11/12

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Tech 3
Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Tech 3
12/12

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

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