Alvaro Bautista is back with a factory team for 2015, and he’s happy about it.
Sure, the Aprilia Gresini MotoGP team is hardly on par with, say, Honda or Yamaha, and maybe not even Suzuki or Ducati. However, Bautista is relishing the challenge ahead of him – especially the chance to be involved with development of the team’s bike, instead of being stuck with the same hardware all season long as a member of a satellite team.
“When I rode as an official Suzuki rider I really liked it because you virtually develop the bike yourself. You work more than when you have a satellite bike, but you also have more chances,” said Bautista.
The new Aprilia machine is quite different from the Honda Bautista rode last year, he said. The engine was down in power at first, but he said pneumatic valves and other changes to the motor made a big difference in output. Once that happened, he said the electronics and chassis weren’t matched well to the increased horsepower, but he figures the Sepang test will give them a chance to get everything dialed in correctly.
Eventually, Bautista says, Gresini will add a seamless gearbox to the Aprilia, but he doesn’t expect that until the second or third race of the season.
Bautista thinks it’s a gutsy move for Aprilia to re-enter MotoGP as a factory team without the years of preparation other teams put in (like Suzuki). He reckons 2015 will mainly be focused not on specific targets, but on development and working towards the front.
That sounds like Bautista is telling us not to expect the team to earn a lot of points, especially at the start of the season. That’s not really sandbagging – just an accurate evaluation of the difficulties Gresini is likely to encounter. However, Bautista has seen success with Aprilia before (125 cc world champion, and also positive results with their 250 cc two-stroke), and he says he’s looking forward to working with them again.