As part of a new series, our editor Jacob Ward and our WSBK reporter Matic Kovacic will be chronicling the updates that are made to the MotoGP team bikes.
A MotoGP bike is like nature, it is constantly evolving to be the sharpest version of itself that it can be. Some of the evolutions are difficult to see, due to it being under the skin. However, many of the changes are hard to miss, such as Ducati bringing new aero, or Suzuki bringing a brand new variant of the Akrapovic exhaust.
In this instance however, we are going to be looking at the Aprilia RS-GP, specifically the one ridden by Aleix Espargaro in Sepang, as Scott Redding has unfortunately been frozen out of the development side. In short, the differences between Redding and Espargaro’s bike were huge. The list of differences are as follows: Updated chassis, a reversion to the 2017 rear section (with the covered exhaust) and a completely different weight distribution which has sent more of the weight to the rear of the bike. This is to try and combat the big problems Aprilia have faced all year, a complete lack of rear grip and overheating the front tyre.
In the two images above, courtesy of MotoGP’s gallery taken at Phillip Island, which are separate practice sessions, you can see the differences in the rear section of the two bikes. Aleix is running the 2017 rear section in the first photo, which is more covered and the exhaust is closer to the seat unit. The second is running the 2018 bike which has a shorter and more narrow tail, with the exhaust being further back in the chassis. It seems the 2018 bike was a step backwards, and this was confirmed by Aleix reverting. The chassis changes appear to be to help the bike turn while being neither on the brakes or the throttle, as this transition is something that needs work. To further complicate matters, theres a carbon swingarm floating around in Noale somewhere, and Redding used it in Japan in a practice session, but it didn’t do much for the fundamental problems of the 2018 bike.
It is the same in the two photos above, the rear is worlds different. These changes, both updates and reversions added up to Aleix being over one second faster in Malaysia per lap, as he had more grip to play with than Redding on the less updated version.
Stay tuned for more details of some updates as they arrive, both big and small!
Featured image credit- OffBikes Twitter