Aprilia must turn its attention to updating its MotoGP engine after improving its chassis for the first winter test at Sepang, says Aleix Espargaro.
The Spanish rider finished up 13th-fastest on the final day of the test, 1.132 seconds behind pace-setter Jorge Lorenzo but eight tenths up on new teammate Scott Redding.
While praising Aprilia for the work it has put in the RS-GP chassis over the winter, Espargaro revealed the engine used for the opening test of 2018 was the same one he had at Valencia for post-season testing last year.
He added he expects a new, more powerful unit to be ready in time for the final test in Qatar.
“In terms of the chassis the bike has improved,” Espargaro told Motorsport.com.
“The bike from last year was good on braking, but when you released the brakes, you couldn’t put more weight on the front end and the only thing we did was destroy the front tyre carcass.
“With the current bike, we’ve changed a bit my position and when I release the brakes it turns more. That allows me to be more aggressive.
“This is an important year. I’m in the most mature moment of my career, I’m giving my 100 percent and I expect the same from Aprilia.
“They’ve done very well with the chassis and the new bike is exactly what I needed, but the engine is the same I had in Valencia.
“I expect them to bring to Qatar [testing] the new engine and I expect it to be more powerful.”
Espargaro said last year that Aprilia must “give everything” to improve its competitiveness or abandon its MotoGP project, following a spate of non-finishes caused by both unreliability and rider errors.
The former Suzuki rider said that while he accepts his part in what team boss Romano Albesiano described as a “depressing” 2017 points tally, any further mechanical drama would be “unacceptable”.
“I admit my fault after crashing so many times, but this season we have to fight to be in the top six or top eight at the end of the year,” he added.
“Any engine breakdown is no longer acceptable.”