Andrea Iannone says he is “not expecting a lot” from his first race on Aprilia’s MotoGP bike at the 2019 season opener in Qatar.
Iannone sat out much of the first pre-season test at Sepang and then finished 18th overall – four places behind team-mate Aleix Espargaro – over three days of running at Qatar’s Losail circuit.
The Italian, who has riden for Ducati and Suzuki so far in his MotoGP career, had been positively surprised by Aprilia’s RS-GP when he tried it for the first time in the 2018 post-season.
But Iannone admitted it will still take time for the bike to leap up the pecking order.
“In general I’m not expecting a lot,” he said of his Qatar hopes.
“I’m a little bit always… not negative, because I’m always positive, but in any case it’s important this year to finish the race.
“We start well, improve during the weekend and at the end we will see which position we finish the race.
“It’s important we use our package at the maximum, this is the target.”
Iannone worked on making the RS-GP “smoother” in Qatar, as he found the bike to be “a little bit nervous on some parts of the track”.
“The positive for sure is I have a good feeling on the braking point and the first part of the [corner] entry,” he added.
“We need to improve the turning of the bike a little bit, in any case we try to improve this situation during this year.
“I know it’s really difficult to improve during one test or one race weekend but in any case it’s our target.”
Both Aprilias finished out of the points in Qatar last year, although Espargaro was fighting for a top-10 finish when his RS-GP developed a fuel issue.
Espargaro said he is happier with the 2019 specification of the bike, but added he was “expecting to be a little bit faster” on his race-simulation runs at Losail.
“I did 22 laps,” he said.
“I expected to be better, we found some problems, but this is why we are testing, to learn, and this is why it was so important to do a race simulation, because now the engineers have a lot of information to improve the bike for the first race here in two weeks’ time.
“It would be nice to have some more days to test, it’s quite short, but it’s the same for everybody.
“The 2019 RS-GP is clearly better than the ’18 one, but [I’m] not sure it is ready to fight for the top 10 in every single race.
“Let’s try, let’s see how close or how far we are.”