Sporting a special livery for the 2016 MotoGP season finale at the Gran Premio Motul de la Communitant Valenciana, to raise awareness for the charity (RED), who used the event to raise funds and awareness of the work they do to help those in deprived countries, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini teammates Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl completed their last MotoGP aboard the RS-GP; and for Bradl his last in the MotoGP.
Both Aprilia riders plan to go elsewhere in 2017
Both riders signed new contracts elsewhere. At the start of the season everyone was aware that Moto2 rider Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) was going to be promoted to the top class in 2017. The team soon signed up Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) who has helped to evolve the GSX-RR into the competitive bike it is now.
Bautista signed up and is set to make the move to Pull & Bear Aspar Ducati in place of Eugene Laverty who is going to the World Superbikes and Yonny Hernandez who is returning to the Moto2. The Spaniard will be joined by Karol Abraham who is returning to the class. Bradl however has signed for Honda in the World Superbikes, and so Valencia was the last we would see of him for the foreseeable future.
Aprilia have been on great form of late
The results of late, gained by both riders have meant that the team that is still very much in its development stages itself, have secured top 10 finishes for both riders. It highlights how much of a difference a year can make in motorsports. Qualifying ahead of the season finale in 17th (Bradl) and 18th (Bautista), they certainly had their work cut out ahead of them should they repeat their success and deliver some points as a thank you to their teams.
Both riders completed the race, Bautista again made it into the top 10 finishing in 10th, and claiming six championship points. Bradl ended up in 13th claiming three championship points in his last MotoGP. The results from the finale left Bautista in 12th overall in the 2016 MotoGP championship standings on 82 points, and Bradl was 16th on 63 points. Not bad at all.
Bautista felt they were able to reap their rewards
After the race, Bautista talked about how “in the second half" of the season they were able to “reap the fruits of a lot of hard work, much of which was done last year as well”. He felt that they “went in the right direction for development” and that “Aprilia did a great job”, also he found the “materials worked the way [they] expected them to”. Having “improved a lot” he wanted to “wish all the best to Aprilia and the team with whom [he] experienced two years of hard work, but great satisfaction in the progress the bike has made”.
He talked about how he “always gave it [his] all” and he thanked his engineers and mechanics for doing what he described as “an exceptional job” as he found they were “always seeking to provide [him] with the best solutions”.
Discussing the race, he thought it was “good” and said, “If you consider that starting from behind, we went from almost six seconds from the race leader in the first lap to finishing with a dignified gap (per lap time), especially considering that this is one of the most difficult tracks for the RS-GP.”
Exciting race for Bradl, being his last in MotoGP
Bradl described the Valencia GP as a “very exciting race” and he found this was the case “especially in the second half” when he was “able to push and overtake Redding”, also he said; “Besides the fact is was my last MotoGP.” After the warm-up he revealed they “had to replace the clutch” which meant he was “unable to make a good start which did not make things simple”.
He explained how they “decided to start with the soft front tyre” that they had used in the afternoon sessions, which meant he “had to adapt a bit, especially in the first laps”. He found that from the “mid-point on things improved” however the “gap was already too big to strive for a better position”. He said, “In any case, we finished in the points and on a track that is difficult for us, that result was not a given.”
The German rider, on his departure went on to thank all of the team at Aprilia and described how he felt that the “experience has helped [him] to grow as a rider”; this was done by “taking on a new challenge made up of testing and developing a new project”. He said, “We can be satisfied with the work we have done and I wish them the best of luck for the future.”