Aleix, this is your second year with Aprilia. What do you expect from the 2018 season?

“Looking back at last season, we demonstrated a high level of performance, taking the RS-GP to important results but at the same time we made a few mistakes that penalised us in the end in terms of points. Looking at 2018, I think we will be able to be close to the top consistently.”

After the first tests, what were the clearest improvements?

“I must say that the 2018 RS-GP proved to be better than the previous model straight away. It is lighter and more reactive. The guys at Aprilia moved in the direction I had hoped. In terms of the team, a year of experience will certainly help us to be more efficient as we work together in the garage and managing races.”

What are this bike’s strong points?

“From the first time I swung a leg over the RS-GP, in the 2016 Valencia tests, I found an extremely stable bike in braking. This is a characteristic that has been improved even further with the 2018 model, which is even better going into and through corners. We still have room for improvement, especially in acceleration from low speeds, and that is where we are focusing our work.”

Three tracks for the pre-seasons tests, one of which was brand new: how did it go?

“I was rather curious to ride on the Buriram track. I had prepared by watching some videos but, to be honest, it surprised me. I had more fun than I thought I would. The first part is not particularly interesting with all the straights connected by braking sections, but overall it is a nice track. It was a very demanding test for us. We worked nonstop to solve a few problems and that will help us as we develop the bike. In Malaysia I had the chance to try the 2018 RS-GP for the first time and I liked it straight away. It was a nice way to start the season. In Doha we have been struggling a bit to take full advantage of the new tyre for a fast lap, but we were competitive in terms of pace. I believe in our potential and I am confident that we will be battling for the top 8 straight away”.

With the tests over, what are your goals for 2018?

“It will be a fundamental season for us. A sort of baccalaureate. We know that we can be competitive and we also know where we need to improve. If we are able to be consistent and focused race after race, we’ll be able to bring home some nice satisfaction. A goal? To stay in the top 5-6 of the Championship. Given the incredible level of our rivals, it will be difficult, but we can do it.”