With Aprilia's early season progress
On their return to Superbike after a seven-year gap, Aprilia have already emerged as one of the front-runners in this early part of the season.
So far the best results have been the two podiums conquered by Max Biaggi in Qatar,
but even in Australia and at Valencia the Italian V4 machine demonstrated extraordinary potential, despite there being still considerable room for development.
We caught up with Aprilia technical director Gigi Dall'Igna for his comments on the early races and the prospects for the rest of the season.
"I am reasonably happy with the results so far", declared Dall'Igna. "In all three rounds we have performed well despite some difficult situations like the mistake we made in Valencia Superpole. But what we were interested in was seeing if we could be up with the best right from the start. Before the start of the championship this was a dream, now after three rounds I can say it's a reality. So far we've shown that we have done a good job, now we must make further steps forward".
What hasn't worked so far?
"On a technical level there are a few components, like the variable intakes, which arrived a bit late. We struggled with fuel feed problems, which meant that the pre-season tests were a bit complicated. I have to say that we were pretty good at managing the situation because when you've got problems in January, with the championship beginning at the start of March, it's not easy to remain clear-headed and focused. And we're lacking a bit of experience. For example, when the temperature changes we're struggling to find the right compromise between tyres and set-up, but we're working on it".
What are the priorities for development?
"We have steps scheduled for the engine and the electronics. We think we've still got a lot of room for improvement and we'll be working on this throughout the season".
And what can you tell us about Nakano's condition?
"I spoke to him recently and he'll be back training soon. I'm optimistic about Assen, there aren't many days left until then, but in any case he'll be out in free practice on the Friday".
Do you think Aprilia are now in a position to be fighting for the podium from the Assen race onwards?
"To be honest we've already proved we can do that. We are in amongst the leading group and this is a source of great satisfaction for us".