Iannone: I have great people with me

Andrea Iannone admits he wasn’t expecting to finish 14 seconds behind the race winner in his first race for Aprilia; “The group is strong. We have really clear ideas to improve the situation. I think it’s a really good start for us.”
Iannone: I have great people with me

Not even a dislodged winglet could hold Andrea Iannone back in his race debut for Aprilia, as the colourful Italian branded the 2019 MotoGP curtain raiser in Qatar as “a really good start.”

After a preseason of considerable ups and downs, the Italian rallied after a turn one collision with Franco Morbidelli, that broke one side of his aerodynamic fairing, leaving him with a “bike that didn’t have a good balance.”

The one-time race winner ploughed on, however, and was engaged in a tight scrap with Jorge Lorenzo – himself making his race debut for Repsol Honda – for 13th place. In the end the Spaniard pipped Iannone for the place on the run to the line.



Yet it was the gap of 14 seconds to race winner Andrea Dovizioso and the working methods of those in his team that was most pleasing to ex-team-mate Iannone, who also crashed on the cool-down lap.

“After the race I lost the front because I lost my pace,” he explained. “The temperature of the front tyres went completely down so I crashed. Fortunately it was after the race.

“For our first race that was a really good result. Especially because of the first corner. I lost my winglets. I had contact with Morbidelli and I lost my winglets.

“But in any case we worked very well during the weekend. We improved step-by-step and I have really great people with me. The group is strong. We have really clear ideas to improve the situation. I think it’s a really good start for us.

“I have a good feeling with the bike. I recovered a lot of positions. I was 19th after the start. At the first corner I had strong contact with Franco Morbidelli and lost my left winglets. I rode all the race without one side of winglets, so the bike didn’t have a good balance. It was strange.

“But I’m happy because we arrived really close to the top riders. It’s only the first race. I don’t have many kilometres with this bike. It’s really good. I didn’t expect this at this first race.

"Thanks to the team, and thanks to everyone that works with me because we have a really strong group and this is the most important [thing].”

Pressed on the strengths of the RS-GP over race distance, Iannone explained, “In the last part of the race, in the last six or seven laps, I struggled a bit in the braking point. I could not reduce the speed well.

“But in any case I tried my best. I’m constant for all the race and this is really important. We managed the tyres with good care.”

Looking ahead to Argentina, which plays host to the second round of the season, the 29-year old acknowledges fighting for race wins and podiums are still some way off. For now, seeing improvements round by round is the objective.

“In the past I remember [Aleix] Espargaro [Aprilia team-mate] in Argentina was always fast,” he said. “I hope this year also we can stay really close to the first riders. In any case our priority is to improve the bike race-by-race. I won’t win the race or fight for the podium in this moment. But it’s really clear for us. We want to improve race-by-race.”