The Aprilia Racing Team Gresini squad launched its 2018 campaign today. Aprilia’s proudly all-Italian challenge in the MotoGP World Championship begins from a base that... Scott Redding looks ahead to 2018 season at Aprilia team launch

The Aprilia Racing Team Gresini squad launched its 2018 campaign today.

Aprilia’s proudly all-Italian challenge in the MotoGP World Championship begins from a base that is more solid than ever. In fact, the work done by the Noale Racing Department during the 2017 season came together in the consistent growth of the young RS-GP project which, once again characterised by the Italian livery designed by Aldo Drudi, has been revamped and advanced in every area for the 2018 season.

The final part of the season was a turning point for Aprilia. The sixth place earned by Aleix Espargaró at Aragón with a gap of less than six seconds behind the winner, followed immediately by excellent performance in Japan (fourth in qualifying) and Australia (best time at the end of the first day of practice) highlighted clear progress, then halted by the unfortunate injury Espargaró suffered as he was battling in the lead group during the Phillip Island GP.

For the 2018 season, Aprilia is keen to pick up from there, from a bike that maintains the same construction philosophy as its forerunner, but refined and advanced in every aspect and with an extremely motivated pair of riders, fully aware that they have everything they need to aim consistently for the top spots in the rankings. Alongside Aleix Espargaró will be Scott Redding. The English rider, born in 1993, is coming into his fifth MotoGP season, the first on a factory team.

The work done by Aprilia Racing has involved every aspect of the RS-GP. A brand new frame led to a complete repositioning of the masses and therefore a new weight distribution, perhaps one of the clearest aspects but one that is fundamentally important in defining the dynamic performance of modern MotoGP bikes. The airbox and exhaust are also new, called on to optimise the performance of the exclusive narrow V4, which was also upgraded. Also in the chassis architecture, some big changes were made with a new front suspension and the carbon swingarm which will be further developed during the season.

Confirmation of the project’s technical maturity came during the pre-season tests, during which Aleix and Scott passed the 2018 version of the RS-GP with flying colours. The development direction taken has therefore been confirmed and it draws from the experience of one of the most victorious racing departments ever, backed by 54 World Titles earned in all motorcycling disciplines and now highly motivated to do well in the premier class of this 2018 World Championship season that will begin 18 March on the Losail track in Qatar.

“This is my first year as a factory rider and I must say that I have had very positive sensations so far. Having a team behind me that supports me and works with me to improve the bike gives me great motivation. We have managed to improve consistently with every outing, also experimenting with some solutions that were a gamble, but always with specific goals. It is difficult for me to make predictions right now. I am still adapting to the RS-GP and at the same time we have undertaken development of the 2018 model. In any case, I am positive. Thanks to the last tests in Qatar, we have taken another step forward, narrowing the gap behind the leaders, so I am confident as we approach the first race.”