Aprilia «in a higher level than expected» ahead of MotoGP 2024

The 2024 RS-GP turned heads when the covers came off it at the Sepang test at the start of February courtesy of its radical aerodynamic concept, and the bike continued to make headlines as Espargaro finished fifth in Malaysia and third at the Qatar test.

Espargaro won two grands prix in 2023 on his way to sixth in the standings and already feels the 2024 RS-GP is “better everywhere” over a lap.

However, he cautioned that the bike is still missing horsepower compared to the Ducati, which is particularly noticeable when in qualifying trim.

“We are in a higher level than what I expected before we started the pre-season, after the two tests,” Espargaro said.

“[We’ve tested at] two completely different tracks and we’ve been fast. The Aprilia is better everywhere; we just need to improve the bike in the engine side.

“We need more torque, more power, especially for the soft tyre because it looks like we are on the limit. We cannot extract more from a soft tyre. So, for Saturdays we’re going to struggle.

“But in terms of the race pace with the medium tyre, it’s been amazing. We flew. I’m very happy.

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“The RS-GP 24 is good, I’m really happy. But if you check my race simulation before my crash, I did a couple of laps in 1m51s, which is crazy on a medium tyre.

“So, it means that when you put on a soft you would expect to be on top, you’d expect to be at least a couple of tenths faster.

“But I couldn’t because it’s like a flatspot everywhere, I need more power. So, the bike is amazing everywhere, we just need to improve the power performance.”

Espargaro says the team told him the horsepower the bike’s engine is producing is the most it has ever been, but that it “recognises that it’s not enough”.

With Aprilia bound by the regulations from being able to develop its engine in-season, what it finished the Qatar test on is likely to be what it will race in 2024. As such, it will be “very difficult” to make the gains he thinks are needed.

“That’s a question you need to give to Romano [Albesiano],” he replied, when asked if he could expect more engine performance.

“It’s going to be very difficult, sincerely. Romano told me during the winter that we are – he never told me exactly the number of horsepower the Aprilia has – in a really, really high number compared to four, five years ago.

“They never expected to reach these numbers, but he recognises that it’s not enough. So, hopefully they can improve, but it’s not going to be easy.”

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