MotoGP mid-season report: ‘Championship very realistic’ - Bonora

| | MotoGP
Picture: GeeBee Images

With half of 2022’s MotoGP season done and dusted, Aprilia Racing sits second in the riders standings and top of the team title fight.

While it’s not what many in the World Championship may have expected coming in to the season, Race Manager Paolo Bonora is confident it’s where the Noale factory intends to stay, challenging across the board for the foreseeable future.

“After some difficult times, we are now so happy about the results we have achieved this year,” Bonora acknowledged. “Everybody in Aprilia Racing is very proud about the results, about the level, and the motivation of all our riders is very high.

I think, my personal opinion, it could be very realistic,” he admitted, looking ahead to Aleix Espargaro’s chances of becoming MotoGP Champion. “What is happening now is a deserved reward to all our efforts.

“I don’t want to say anything,” he continued coyly. “My way of working is to keep the feet on the ground, keep working as we have done for many years, and doing it step by step, race by race. We don’t want to think about more than this, but to keep working like we have is, for us, the correct way of managing the race. So, we will see.

Despite five weeks off after an intense four races in the same amount of time, the holiday could be limited at the Italian HQ ahead of Silverstone’s return to action in early August.

“Usually, they say that if something works, don’t touch it, but to be realistic, in such a high-level championship like MotoGP, you can’t relax, even not race by race.

“So, at the moment, we are currently working still on the chassis set-up and the electronics setting, and for sure, of course, on the engine performance,” Bonora explained. “This is to achieve the goal to give more confidence to the riders.

“We are following Aleix and Maverick’s comments, and with the help of Lorenzo Savadori and our test team, we keep pushing to solve some problems on our bike. In the end, we are so happy about the improvement that Maverick is making race by race, and Aleix, as you can see, is doing an amazing job. So, we must keep this way of working until the end of the season, and keep pushing.”

While initial progress may have been slow and steady since his arrival from Yamaha mid-way through 2021, Maverick Viñales returned to form in the closing double header. Challenging strongly in fourth before a technical issue prevented him capitalising at the Sachsenring, the Spaniard was finally back on the podium exactly a year since his last, at the Assen TT Circuit.

“Maverick jumped on our bike last year in Misano test, was something that make him happy about many positive things about our bike,” the Italian commented on his most recent rider. “He suggested to us to improve in few areas. So since that moment, was a very helpful job coming from him.

“As you can see during this year he is suffering a little bit on the qualifying lap, his riding style needs to have a very specific way of turning so when he puts the new tyre on the rear, he suffer a little bit because he can’t approach to the corner in the same way.

“Last race in Sachsenring he was pushing a lot. He had the new medium tyre comparing the rest of the riders, the majority has the hard one. He was so confident during the race, at the end he thought to attack Aleix to be honest. But as you have seen in the race pace, probably if he had not the problem on the rear device, probably he will join the fight at the end of the race.

“At the moment there is no clear order, we leave the riders to do as they want.”

Progression for Aprilia looks to be coming thick and fast after RNF announced it was switching from Yamaha to the RS-GP for 2023. Four bikes on the grid will certainly boost the Noale factory’s development and while riders for the independent team have yet to be announced, how much influence will it have over satellite decisions?

“At the moment we are starting a new project, a new collaboration with this new team for us and we’d like to share the maximum level, the collaboration and all the ideas between Aprilia and Mr. Razali,” Bonora confirmed. “So never comes from only one side, it is sharing of ideas and at the end we’d like to choose the best rider for our bike to follow one project for the next year.”

Picture: GeeBee Images
Picture: GeeBee Images