Lessons learned for Suzuki and Aprilia

The Assen GP was a chance for Aprilia Racing Team Gresini and Team Suzuki to experience how their bikes respond in the wet. The ninth round was the perfect pportunity to learn, however none of the current riders will remain with their team next season.

Lessons learned for Suzuki and Aprilia
Lessons learned for Suzuki and Aprilia - Gresini Racing

While the majority of the riders’ attention was focused on tyre issues at the Assen GP, as they worried about the lack of adhesion from the tyres, there were two new factory teams that were left feeling inexperienced and behind in the running as this is the first time they will have experienced wet conditions as bad as this.

Competitive start for both manufacturers

Team Suzuki Ecstar is in its second season of the MotoGP where the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini is in its first season. The two teams struggled this round because of lack of experience and knowledge in conditions like those they experienced in Assen. However, they did well, they put in the effort, they were competitive, they got some points, they gained a lot of experience and hopefully improved their confidence.

Vinales felt his inexperience came through at Assen

Vinales felt the rain was “not a big deal” for him and his team, he admitted “We lack in experience and today we paid the biggest price.” Before the weather changed he thought they were “pretty competitive in the dry” however he acknowledged the fact that they “couldn’t find a proper set-up” to have a machine that made him comfortable.

Vinales gaining experience in the wet - www.facebook.com (Maverick Vinales)
Vinales gaining experience in the wet - www.facebook.com (Maverick Vinales)

The Spanish rider was sad because he “suffered a lot during both legs of the race” and he believed that he “could have had a good chance in the dry”.

Is Vinales feeling the pressure?

It is early days still for the ‘evolving’ Suzuki, but maybe the 2015 ‘Rookie of the Year’ is feeling the pressure; next season he is moving to Movistar Yamaha where they are used to winning, the machinery is top notch and the expectations are high.

Hopefully he reassured himself when he said, “We still have a lot to learn and grow”, especially when it comes to wet conditions, like he said they “are all learning”. He said, “This result is under our expectations; although being well into the points is a positive thing.

Espargaro found modifications effective

His teammate Aleix Espargaro felt that it was a “pity” as he experienced “a real improvement” and his “feeling was good”. He felt “very uncomfortable” initially as he “couldn’t deploy power to the ground and had issues turning”. However he noticed that “in the time between the two legs of the race” that his crew “applied some modifications that finally proved to be very effective”.

Espargaro slid off in the wet - Suzuki Press Release
Espargaro slid off in the wet - Suzuki Press Release

Trouble for Espargaro

When the race restarted he was forced off the track by which sent him into the gravel at turn one, however he rescued it and was able to re-join. He said the improvements allowed him to “feel confident and recover to the riders ahead”, further into the race though he crashed with ten minutes remaining. Although he was disappointed he said, “I am finally satisfied for the job we have done and for this experience under the rain; it will be useful for the future in case of another wet race.

Aprilia's first MotoGP experience in extreme conditions

Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl are riding for Aprilia Racing Team Gresini for the first season; Bautista previously rode for LCR Honda and Bradl is the only rookie in the MotoGP having being promoted from the Moto2 for this season. However, experience did not pay off as Bautista crashed out on the last lap whereas Bradl finished eighth and claimed six points.

Bautista was competitive before crashing out

Bautista felt that during the first part of the race that he was, “riding well despite the difficulties” with the weather. When the race restarted he “stayed calm” and was “trying to figure out he track conditions lap after lap” whilst he set his pace. He said he, “felt good, even when Iannone overtook me, opening up a little gap I managed to close it back down”. He was “very close to Andrea” when he noticed the Italian Ducati rider “went slightly wide on a turn” and so the Spanish rider “moved in to overtake him”. He said, “Unfortunately I fell, but in those situations the rider’s instinct is always to aim for the best possible result.”  His aim now is to “look forward and keep on growing”.

Bautista ahead of Ducati riders Laverty and Iannone - Gresini Racing
Bautista ahead of Ducati riders Laverty and Iannone - Gresini Racing

Bradl approves of Race Direction's decision to stop race

Bradl agreed that, “Race Direction took the right decision” to cancel the race that he said will, “spark a lot of discussion” as he felt, “The track was getting really dangerous!” The rookie said he was, “Riding with confidence” and that he “felt good in the saddle even if it was definitely not easy to go fast.”

More obstacles for Bradl to overcome

When the race was stopped and he returned to the garage he said the RS-GP had a “small electronics problem” and so when the race restarted he had to use the second bike. He noticed that “the geometry was slightly different and the feeling was not perfect” and so his plan was to “manage the race." Eighth was a fantastic result for the rookie as he now looks forward to his home GP at Sachsenring, Germany.

Bradl cornering in the wet - Gresini Racing
Bradl cornering in the wet - Gresini Racing

Major changes ahead for new manufacturers

Chances are slim that riders will come across circumstances similar to those experienced in Assen; until they get to Silverstone for the British round where the weather rarely works out for the riders.  If this is the case, then their experience will pay off as they will understand their machinery more. However, all four of the riders will not be remaining with their team next season. Vinales is moving to Yamaha and Espargaro to Aprilia with moto2 rider Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2); there are no seats for the two current Aprilia riders.