The brand new Aprilia RS-GP prototype has made its debut in the hands of factory riders Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista at the Losail circuit in Qatar. The press release is very light on detail, other than mentioning that the 2016 bike, a brand new machine designed from the ground up, was a big improvement on the 2015 machine. The lack of detail is hardly surprising, the entire test was shrouded in secrecy, with even normally well-informed sources not being able to extract any information.
From photos, the bike looks like a cross between the former Aprilia RS-GP and Honda's RC213V machine. The bike now has two separate exhaust routes, featuring separate pipes for the front and rear cylinder banks of the V4 engine. It is believed that the angle between the cylinder banks has been enlarged, though that is not immediately visible from the photos.
The press release issued by Aprilia appears below, with more pictures from the test underneath the press release:
THE NEW APRILIA RS-GP 2016 ON THE TRACK
ALVARO BAUTISTA AND STEFAN BRADL ARE PLEASED AFTER THREE DAYS OF TESTING IN QATAR
ALBESIANO: "THREE INTENSE AND POSITIVE DAYS. THE 2016 BIKE HAS GREAT POTENTIAL"
Losail (Qatar), 23 February 2016 - The first true tests of the Aprilia MotoGP project have just been concluded. In fact, the three days of testing had the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini hard at work on the new RS-GP, the prototype developed entirely at Noale that will be used in the upcoming 2016 season.
Despite the extremely recent debut of a completely new project, the Aprilia garage is highly optimistic. Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl began working on development straight away, immediately noticing promising room for improvement in the new prototype. There really isn't one single area where efforts were focused: the new RS-GP has nothing in common with previous Aprilia projects except for know-how. It is a completely new MotoGP bike in every component without exception, developed based on the data gathered during the 2015 season with last year's laboratory bikes.
The Aprilia RS-GP machines will be back on the track in Qatar just a few days from now for the official IRTA tests that precede the first race of the season.
ROMANO ALBESIANO (Aprilia Racing Manager)
"After the Aragon shakedown with the test riders, Alvaro and Stefan began to get to know the new Aprilia RS-GP here in Qatar. These were three very intense and positive days of work. We are bringing home a lot of information and some growing pain problems we need to solve, but above all we are leaving with confirmation that the new bike's dynamic performance is significantly better than the 2015 bike. We have an important development path ahead of us that will be necessarily accelerated, but we are confident that this will be a season of growth toward a decidedly interesting level."
FAUSTO GRESINI (Team Manager)
"Hearing the positive comments from our riders after the first kilometers ridden astride a completely new bike was exciting. The RS-GP seems to have gotten off on the right foot. Alvaro and Stefan noticed a clear improvement in dynamic performance compared to the 2015 bike. Now we have a big development schedule ahead of us but we know we are starting from an extremely solid base.”
"In these three days we explored the new bike, doing a lot of work with short sessions since this was the first real test with the 2016 RS-GP. Obviously we are not at 100% but we have a very good starting point. I think that we are already at a similar level as the end of 2015 with the difference being that we are just at the beginning. There is a lot of room for development whereas with the old bike we were at the limit. We still need to work on a lot of things but I'm pleased with the work Aprilia has done. In the next tests I hope to be able to lay the foundation for the new season.”
"This test was really important as it was the first contact with the new bike. First impressions are good. I see a clear difference compared to the old bike and we are moving in the right direction. At the moment I have a good feeling despite the fact that we have a long way to go before we'll be able to say that we're satisfied. That was to be expected at the beginning. This is a completely new and decidedly demanding project, but we can truly say that we are off on the right foot.”