14 Jun, 2017
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MotoGP: Aprilia: Satellite team in ’19 ‘definitely possible’

“Supporting in a proper way a MotoGP level team wouldn’t be so easy. So, we are probably considering to not have this next year” – Romano Albesiano

MotoGP: Aprilia: Satellite team in ’19 ‘definitely possible’
MotoGP: Aprilia: Satellite team in ’19 ‘definitely possible’
Aprilia's racing boss Romano Albesiano has stated it is too early in the factory's premier class development to support a satellite team in MotoGP, and believes plans to provide bikes for more than two riders in 2019 are more realistic.

The Italian admitted Aprilia had spoken to 'a couple' of satellite outfits about the possibility of running more than two RS-GPs in '18, as series organiser Dorna pushes for three of the six manufacturers (Aprilia, Suzuki and KTM) to expand their presence on the premier class grid.

However, considering the relatively small size of the Noale factory against several of its competitors, Albesiano admitted this option “wouldn't be so easy”, meaning, in all likelihood, Ducati, Honda and Yamaha will be the only factories providing equipment to satellite teams in 2018.

“[We are] talking to a couple of teams,” said Albesiano on Monday. “There are positive and negative things in adding a satellite team in this phase of our development. It would be good of course for many reasons.

“But also we are not a big structure, and supporting in a proper way a MotoGP level factory team wouldn't be so easy. So, we are probably considering to not have this next year.”

So is '19 a more realistic date for the factory to provide machinery for a satellite team? “For 2019, if things are going like I expect it will be definitely possible,” he said.

While the '17 RS-GP has proved a useful tool with plenty of potential in the first seven races of the year, riders Aleix Espargaro and Sam Lowes have been plagued by mechanical issues, that have ruined potentially promising results.

For one, Espargaro retired out of the French and Catalan grand prix with engine issues when holding strong positions in the top ten. “Frustrated. Angry. Pissed off,” were just some of the words he used to describe his mood on Sunday evening.

Albesiano explained “small details” were behind the recurring engine issues. “We had the problem in the pneumatic system. We had this problem a couple of times before, so we had to fix it and it happened again unfortunately.

“It's not a matter of redesigning. It's a matter of small details and some strategy. [There are] Some small components in the valves that we have to reconsider. But this part work for long, so now something is happening with that one step. The system is the same as last year. We never had this problem.”

Lowes, meanwhile, had his qualifying hopes dashed by “stupid electrical problems”. “Electric,” came Albesiano's response when asked what had happened on Saturday. “A sequence of stupid electrical problems. It was difficult to understand. But now nothing was really broken, but the bike could not start, so we lost a lot of time, unfortunately.”

The disappointment felt by Espargaro's retirement on Sunday was compounded by a strong showing at the post-race test on Monday, where he posted the fifth fastest time, and showed consistency that suggests he would have challenged the top six.

Asked where he could have finished, had those engine gremlins not appeared, Albesiano said, “I don't know. If I take the lap time he did this morning… It would have been a good race. For us it's been anyway a very positive weekend because we got the best qualifying ever for Aprilia MotoGP.

“He did everything perfectly. We did almost everything. It's just a matter to get the potential, and then if we are strong we will be there.”

Espargaro also responded to rumours linking several names to Lowes' seat for 2018. Although the Englishman has a contract with Aprilia for next year, the factory has sounded out “some riders” in case there is no improvement.

"I read something about my team-mate for next year, I was very angry,” Espargaro said on Saturday. “It's race five or race six and I think we need to have more respect for a rider that last season won races [in Moto2]. We cannot forget these things in just fucking three months.

“We need to have more respect, we need to give more time to Sam - he's a talented rider. If we arrive in Valencia and his results are still not competitive, you can think about something, but not in June."

By Neil Morrison

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  • Don-R 14 Jun, 2017 15:29:11
    Putting aside the question of whether Sam should keep his ride or not, I think it speaks very highly of Aleix's integrity as a person that he should come out in support of his team mate, even if that means criticising his employers.
  • TrueFan 14 Jun, 2017 14:33:47
    Bravo Aleix. Well said. People ought to show some respect.

    Aprilia is having some teething problems, but they have also shown that (a) this bike has real potential, and (b) Aleix has posted surprisingly competitive laps on it when it hangs together.

    People need to wait and see with Lowes. He's a very good rider, but Aprilia have issues to sort out at this point. They might be relatively new to MotoGP, but they are not new to racing. Give this a little time.
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