Motorcycles Aprilia facing its "most important" year in MotoGP
2020 Aprilia Tuono 1100 Factory/1100 RR
Not your average naked bike.
Aprilia CEO Massimo Rivola admits the 2021 season is the marque’s “most important” one given the freedom it has to develop its RS-GP compared to its rivals.
As it is a concession manufacturer, Aprilia is one of only two manufacturers, after KTM, allowed to start the 2021 campaign with a completely new bike as COVID-19 cost-saving rules mean non-concession marques have to carry over their 2020 engines.
Despite finishing last in the constructors' table, Aleix Espargaro repeatedly stated the 2020 RS-GP was the best bike he'd ridden since joining Aprilia in 2017.
"Made more mistakes than expected" - Aprilia on Aleix Espargaro's season
© Motorsport Images Aleix Espargaro was putting too much pressure on himself to achieve good results, according to Aprilia. Aleix Espargaro lived up to his role as Aprilia team leader again last season . The Spaniard was consistently the fastest Aprilia driver. In the drivers' championship, Espargaro did not get past 17th position. This was due to a number of falls. Espargaro landed twelve times in the gravel bed.
With the current rules, 2021 represents Aprilia's biggest chance since returning to MotoGP in 2015 to close the performance gap to the top manufacturers.
When asked by Motorsport.com if he considered 2021 to be Aprilia's most important year because of this, Rivola said: "The answer is yes.
"For me, it's the third year and my second bike, because in '19 the bike was already done.
"It is the most important year, even more now without Fausto [Gresini].
"The ambition was to become official and maybe to even have a satellite team [in 2022], as having four riders and four bikes makes everything easier from the growth and all the performance.
"So, yes, it is the most important year for us. But I'm quite positive."
Rivola revealed Aprilia has been given a deadline of May by Dorna Sports CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta to submit plans for a satellite operation for 2022, but declined to comment further on this given the recent death of Gresini team boss Fausto Gresini.
Gresini won’t be factory Aprilia MotoGP entrant from 2022
Fausto Gresini has announced his squad will return to being an independent MotoGP team from 2022 and will no longer be Aprilia's factory entrant.Gresini has been present as a satellite outfit since 1997 in the premier class and has registered 14 wins and 41 podiums in its time.
As well as a new bike, Aprilia will field a revised line-up, with its former test rider Lorenzo Savadori joining Espargaro.
Aprilia's original plan was to evaluate both Savadori – who rode in place of Bradley Smith in the final three rounds of 2020 – and Smith during pre-season testing, but Rivola says signing the Italian had a knock-on effect internally.
"Well, it was a company decision," Rivola said on signing Savadori over Smith.
"We decided to move a bit earlier than expecting all the tests to be done because it had a chain effect also on other people and the choice of other people in the team to develop the team was also very important.
"It's true that Bradley has an experience and a characteristic that fits much more to being a test rider compared to Lorenzo, because Lorenzo has no experience.
"So, that was part of the choice."
Rivola also expressed a desire to retain Smith as a test rider for 2021, but conceded the decision to put Savadori in a race seat over the Briton meant continuing together wasn't a given.
Quartararo pips Miller for fastest time in Sunday MotoGP test .
Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo beat Ducati’s Jack Miller by 0.077s to record the fastest time on the second day of MotoGP testing in Qatar. © Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing As is typical during the Qatar test, the Losail circuit was sparsely populated in the early part of the session, with KTM test rider Dani Pedrosa setting the early pace at 1m58.290s as one of just four runners on track in the first hour. Pramac’s Johann Zarco rounded out Hour 2 fastest of all with a 1m55.