Aprilia’s 2020 MotoGP Season

Aprilia showed a lot of promise with its 2020 RS-GP bike during MotoGP pre-season once the bike had broken cover in the early part of the year. Yet the team’s performance during the two races at Jerez was slightly underwhelming.

The promise showed during pre-season was due to the bike undergoing some heavy revisions which meant that, at the hands of Aleix Espargaro, it was consistently in and around the top ten at the end of official test sessions.

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Yet after the Jerez double header the team finds itself at the bottom of both the Manufacturers’ and Teams’ standings having only managed two points finishes out of a possible four thanks to Bradley Smith’s fifteenth place finish in the Spanish Grand Prix and his twelfth place finish at the Andalusian Grand Prix.

Espargaro on the other side of the garage failed to finish in both races with perhaps his crash in the second race the most costly considering the high attrition rate and therefore a big missed opportunity for Aprilia to leave the second Jerez race with a large points haul.

What appears to have partly contributed to the underwhelming performance at Jerez is the issue with the bike’s acceleration which Espargaro has highlighted as one of the big areas that has hindered the team in moving up the grid. It especially seems to be an issue in qualifying leaving the riders with a lot of work to do during the race in order to come away with a big result.

#41 – Aprilia – Aprilia Racing Team Gresini – Aleix Espargaró – MotoGP” by Manfred M. is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Espargaro qualified fourteenth and then sixteenth at Jerez while Smith qualified sixteenth and nineteenth across the two races. This means that both riders have to focus on surviving the first lap as they are mired and jostling for position in the middle to back end of the pack before they can then find a rhythm to slowly move up through the field. Obviously this rhythm has a potential of being disrupted by bikes around them attempting to gain positions or either rider being collected in someone else’s accident.

The bikes acceleration and qualifying isn’t the only issue as there appear to be other areas that Aprilia can improve on. Another area that seemed to hinder the team at Jerez was how they initially set the bike up for the race weekend as this also partly contributed to the team’s performance across the two races.

Lastly however there is also the fact that the 2020 RS-GP didn’t make its debut until February 2020 when other teams in the MotoGP paddock had already tested their bikes at the November 2019 Valencia and Jerez tests, not to forget any private tests. This has meant that Aprilia are potentially slightly further behind in the development of their bike with some believing that it wouldn’t be until the middle or latter part of 2020 before the revised RS-GP began to show something closer to its full potential. This has been hindered somewhat by the COVID-19 pandemic which has put restrictions on teams and shortened the season’s race calendar.

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It therefore may be another tough season for Aprilia but there are currently still eleven rounds to be contested in the 2020 season giving the team enough opportunities to move up the grid. Those eleven rounds include two races at Aragon where the Aprilia has gone well over the past few seasons.

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