With Max Biaggi no longer in the picture, Eugene Laverty has become the main man in Aprilia and he will be leading the development of the RSV4 in World Superbikes.
The Northern Irishman has a completely different and more aggressive riding style than the the newly retired Biaggi, however he now feels that the bike is more his especially after the final test of the season at Jerez. after making strides with front-end feel which allowed him to finish on top of the timesheets and ahead of Nicky Hayden of the GP12 (even if Laverty used a Pirelli qualifying tire to set his time).
In an interview with the official World Superbike website, Laverty explained how much better he finds the new 17-inch tires:
“We set good lap times at Jerez and I think it shows how good Superbike is and how good a job Pirelli has done with the new tyres. Everyone asks about the 17-inch tyres and if they are better but it is not the difference in wheel sizes, it is the development Pirelli has done with the tyre. They have really improved the construction and now the tyre is a race tyre. It works so well.
“We did a lot of evaluation work because we had to understand the 17-inch tyre. But either way the front of the bike gives me good feedback. It was important to do some good laps in the test to show what we are capable of, and it is good for Aprilia to know how strong the bike can be. Hopefully I can pick up where Max left off and win some races.”
The Aprilia rider also commented on what development work they did during the Jerez test and changes they tried the RSV4 to futher improve his feeling:
“We tried some swingarms at Jerez and with the 17-inch tyres we are going to have to re-evaluate some things all over again. One swingarm made the bike very stable but we lost a bit of grip in some areas, so we still have not quite cracked what we need from the swingarm but at least we have narrowed it down to two swingarms now. Honestly, there is not much in it, everything is good, and what we have been working on most is getting that front-end feeling. Halfway through the year we were working to improve the feel from the front end confidence and we made a good step at Magny-Cours, and at testing in Aragon and then again in Jerez.”
He added, “We have been trying some different sized forks, different diameters, but either way the damping is working strongly with either fork. That has been the big benefit. We have been using a lot different damping to the direction that Max had taking the bike, in compression and rebound. I think that has been the biggest benefit because before I crashed so much at the start of the year because there was no confidence with it. Max could ride it because he flows and rides very smoothly, but I wanted to attack it, and any time I did that the front couldn’t take it. Now the bike is more suited to me.”