There’s no hiding behind the fact that Andrea Iannone has had a difficult start to life with the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini squad, but the Italian appears to have finally turned a corner. The Maniac enjoyed not only his best day of the season but also the Italian factory’s best day of 2019 by ending Friday at the Motul TT Assen sixth quickest.
Iannone’s performance in FP2 meant that five factories were inside the top seven and furthermore, they were separated by just three quarters of a second. All six factories in MotoGP™ have now shown they have the potential to challenge for the top five, truly cementing just how competitive the premier class is in 2019.
Aprilia closing out the first day inside the top six is evidentally a reflection on the hard work that the factory have put in following the Catalan GP, where both Iannone and test rider Bradley Smith have had to work that little bit harder due to the injury absence of teammate Aleix Espargaro.
Despite a crash at Turn 9 late into FP2 as the Italian tried to better his lap and jump into the top five, he still manages to end the day ahead of World Championship leader Marc Marquez. Although, Iannone did benefit from using the Repsol Honda rider as a marker during his fastest lap.
“Unfortunately, at the end of FP2 we had a crash after I took the medium front and soft rear to try and improve my lap time,” said an unhurt Iannone following the crash. “So, the grip improved but it’s a little bit worse for us especially on the first part of entry, the braking point, the rear pushes a little bit more. I didn’t control the situation the best.
“But all day we’ve been on the limit, I have pushed to try improve our performance. The feeling of the bike improved a lot after the test in Barcelona, this is so important. But we must focus on this weekend because it’s a really good track for us. Here we don’t have many really slow corners, it’s all fast corners at high speeds which for our bike is good. We will try to improve some more tomorrow to stay at this level.
Aprilia were rumoured to have been testing a new carbon swingarm at the Official Barcelona Test, but Iannone says this improvement is not down to any new parts. Instead, he seems to have found a setting on the Aprilia that he feels comfortable with: “We’ve improved through setting not parts. At the moment we don’t have any new parts. Just one thing we’ve had, which I prefer for sure. I think we have understood what the right direction this and this is the most important thing for the guys at home.”