The Portuguese Portimao track was the setting for the first tests of the season held by Aprilia Racing, the reigning Manufacturer World Champion team, concentrated on three days of testing with newcomer Marco Melandri, working side by side with test rider Alex Hofmann.
For the rider from Ravenna, the natural candidate for a key role in the World Championship
that will start on 23 February in Australia, this was the first contact with his Aprilia RSV4 since the winter break. After regaining some familiarity with it, Marco focused on preparing for the first race of the season. Despite difficult weather conditions, with rain on the first two days and an average of low temperatures, the Italian team was able to take advantage of the session to fine tune the bike that is the reigning Manufacturer world champion.
The intermittent rain on the first two days of testing forced the riders to lap in less than optimum conditions. The third and final day, on the other hand, allowed everyone to push hard, with the obvious limit of a track which was cold and not very rubberized.
Over the three days Melandri put in 175 laps with a best time of 1'43.1.
Sylvain Guintoli was absent from the Portimao tests, having just come through the second operation on his right shoulder which he injured last year. The return of the French rider, who is going through physical therapy, is expected for the first race at Phillip Island. The Superbike Test Team was also in the Aprilia garage with test rider Alex Hofmann (150 laps, best 1'45.0).
"Considering the difficult weather conditions, the first two days were a bit wasted. The last day was a particular day. We made a lot of progress with the electronics but we had a few problems with the chassis set up. The track improved little by little and the settings had trouble coping. Toward the end of the test we began to figure out which direction to go for my riding style, but it's a shame that we lost the last half hour (due to oil on the track - editor's note) where we could have tried to put in a fast lap. I'm disappointed about that but the good thing is that we have a clearer idea now. I hope we can get back onto the track for some more testing before the first round at Phillip Island".
Romano Albesiano, Aprilia Racing Manager:
"During these three days first of all we decided on the 2014 suspension which was one of our goals. Melandri was also positive about the electronics updates, where the chassis set up is concerned there is still work to be done to adapt the RSV4 to the rider's needs. We're on the right path but we still need to take that final step to define a base set up that will allow us to take best advantage of the bike-rider package".