Summer report: Andrea Iannone - patience is a virtue

A new year, a new challenge and a new approach from the sometimes fiery Italian has seen gentle progress within the factory Aprilia outfit

A new year for Andrea Iannone has brought a new challenge. And with that has come a new, calmer approach, based on previous experience. The Italian’s new venture with Aprilia has not started so well. The one-time MotoGP race winner scored a best result of eleventh in the first seven races of 2019 and he has struggled to come to terms with the unique braking demands of the RS-GP.

Iannone suffered similar teething issues upon moving to Suzuki two years before. Then he was often a spiky presence, unwilling to communicate to the press and struggling in his role as team leader. By contrast, this year has seen a cooler Iannone, who hails from Vasco on the east coast of Italy, maintain calm, even in the face of frustrating mechanical issues like that suffered in qualifying at the Circuit of Barcelona.

“I want to maintain my head, starting with positive thoughts,” says the Italian of his new outlook. “In Argentina, for example, we started really well. The feeling was good. But on Saturday we started with something new on the bike and it went in the wrong way. But it has been experience for me, my crew chief and the team. We’ve paid with the results but I’m still positive.

“I’m with a good team and a really good group. I’m tranquil. I’m happy in this period. I know and I learnt from the past that working in a rush isn’t better. At Suzuki in 2017 I learned that. We need time. I now work in a relaxed way. Step-by-step we need to improve. I really believe in this challenge.”

Aprilia has undergone a much-needed internal restructuring of its own, with ex-Ferrari Sporting Director Massimo Rivola moving across to manage the change. Experienced Italian crew chief Fabrizio Cecchini has been on hand to interpret his feedback. And now aided by a fully functioning test team (with test rider Bradley Smith), Iannone also has experienced runner Aleix Espargaro as team-mate, a rider he has worked with closely in the opening part of the season.

It hasn’t been easy, however. Iannone has scored a best finish of one tenth place to date and has a meagre haul of 21 points to his name, enough for just 15th in the championship.

The development of the RS-GP has been slow. After the difficulties with the ’18 bike, Aprilia engineers reverted to the basic design behind the ’17 machine that took Aleix Espargaro to three top six finishes. It’s like “the ’17 bike .2” according to the Spaniard. Iannone has largely struggled to stop the bike and find a good deal of comfort with its front end. Furthermore, Aprilia still suffers in the acceleration area, with the bike’s traction a good deal less than its competitors.

There have been occasional updates. At Mugello, for example, Iannone had a new fairing aimed at reducing his acceleration deficit. But there have been no big strides. The Italian will be hoping the Noale factory can work on some solutions over the summer break. Otherwise this new patient approach will be tested to the full.

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