Shaun Muir - Team Principal
This test was really about validating new parts for 2018 and gaining familiarity with the new regulations. It was good to get the whole team together and draw on what we have learnt in 2017, which is key for us moving into next season.
We were not chasing lap times here, and it was difficult to make any comparisons with the competition. Instead we have focused on producing a stable setting for the RSV4-RF that we can build on, and this includes a new gearbox, engine and other new parts to finalise.
There are several new members of staff to integrate to the team including a new crew chief for Lorenzo, and it has been a promising couple of days for everyone. Overall it was an important pre-season test for us that has taught us some things about the bike under the new regulations, and it gives us a good direction to progress in for the January tests.
The test first of all was about exploring the new rev limits. We had to understand how to use the gearbox differently, which is going to make the rider busier as we need to shift more. I can’t say much more about the lower revs but we will just have to live with it, as every manufacturer will.
Today we’ve also focused on the issue I had for a lot of 2017 which was getting the bike to push on the rear tyre more so we can stop, turn and accelerate better. We made some big steps on Tuesday, and I was surprised how extreme we had to go. We made progress though and suddenly I had rear grip, which gives me confidence because it confirms what we thought about the bike and the direction we need to follow.
I wish we had a third day as always so we could keep progressing, but it’s been a very useful two days. We still have to chase down those guys at the front, and Aprilia understand what’s needed on the engine and chassis side of things. We understand the direction needed, it will be the second year with the team and the same bike and we can only get stronger.
It was a very busy test for us. We completed a lot of laps on each day, and we tried a few new settings and directions for 2018. The plan when we started was to improve my comfort and rhythm on the bike, so that I can use it fully and get all the performance from it.
For sure we have lost a little speed with the lower RPM, but so has everyone else in the paddock. Aprilia have made a lot of changes and the bike is quite different to ride, but we have made good work with the RSV4-RF and we should be confident. We worked a lot on rear grip too, we tried two opposite directions to evaluate and this was very important.
There is still a lot of data to analyse, but I am happy with how this test has been and we should always be positive. The team have been great this year and of course we will all work very over the winter.