Aprilia Racing History
|Saturday, 18 February 2012 15:48|
Aprilia - Piaggio Group - is one of the most victorious sport motorcycle brands, having collected an astonishing 49 world titles in its brief history: 38 in MotoGP (where it also boasts a record of 294 GP wins), 2 very recent victories in Superbike and 9 in off-road disciplines.
Aprilia Racing 2012 SBK Team
Aprilia begins manufacturing motorcycles at the end of the 60's and already in 1970 produces a motocross "fifty" which would evolve into a 125, until arriving at the first competition motocross bike in the mid 70's.
After the début in the Motocross sport in 1975, Aprilia enters World Championship Motorcycle Racing to challenge the unbeatable Japanese in the extremely competitive 250 class. The year is 1985 and the first bike has an alloy aluminium dual beam frame paired with a Marzocchi fork and a rear mono-shock mounted on a pro lever type suspension. Its motor is a two cylinder 2T Rotax with horizontally placed cylinders. In its début on 23 March 1985 in Kyalami South Africa Loris Reggiani finishes 12th. For the rest of the championship the bike performs so well that Reggiani takes the bottom step of the podium (third place) at Rijeka and then again at Imola.
In 1987 the Aprilia 250 rises quickly to the top. A new chassis and engine advancements take it to second place (Salzburg and Rijeka). Victory is within reach and, in fact, comes at Misano. The date is 30 August 1987 and Reggiani rides his AF1 250 to its first success in a Gran Prix race.
In 1988 Aprilia begins in the 125 class and immediately, in the French GP, achieves its first podium in the eighth-litre category.
A few seasons later, hungry for results, the Aprilia 250 changes radically starting with its name: the RS250V is born for the 1991 season and the new bike immediately proves to be an exceptional machine. Victory arrives with Chili on the Assen track, immediately replicated by Reggiani at the Paul Ricard. And then a great talent explodes: Max Biaggi wins the European 250 championship.
1991 also brings the first victory in the 125 class for Aprilia: Alessandro Gramigni wins in Czechoslovakia.
In 1992 the first Aprilia title in World Championship Motorcycle Racing arrives: Alex Gramigni is 125 World Champion. And so the 250 is solidly at the top: Chili wins at Hockenheim, Assen and Donington, Reggiani at Jerez and Magny Cours, while the rookie, Biaggi, wins his first GP at Kyalami. Aprilia also wins two world championships in offroad: Tommy Avhala is crowned World Trial Champion with the Aprilia Climber and Aprilia is Manufacturer Champion. After a 1993 in which both the 250 and 125 bikes confirm their competitiveness but just barely miss the title, the year of praises arrives: it's 1994 when Max Biaggi wins in Australia, Malaysia, Holland, the Czech Republic and Barcellona to become 250 Class World Champion on an Aprilia.
In the same year Kazuto Sakata is World Champion on his Aprilia 125: he wins in Australia, Spain and the Czech Republic. Aprilia also collects eight pole positions and nine fastest race laps. Aprilia also makes its début in the 500 class with Reggiani riding an extremely agile two cylinder: an innovative choice in classic Aprilia tradition.
In the 1995 season Biaggi and Aprilia are unstoppable: Malaysia, Germany, Italy, Holland, Great Britain, the Czech Republic, Argentina and Europe bring the season victories which take Max Biaggi to confirmation of his status as World Champion and Aprilia to its first Manufacturer title. Sakata, on the other hand, is unable to repeat the performance in the 125 class and closes out the season in second place: Aprilia wins three times anyway, in Great Britain and the Czech Republic with the World Champion and the third time – in Brazil – with Masaki Tokudome. In the 500 class the two cylinder takes several steps forward, enough for Reggiani to end 10th in front of several official four cylinders.
In 1996 Max Biaggi is three-time champion: Malaysia, Japan, Spain, Italy, France, Great Britain, the Czech Republic, Catalonia and Australia are the stops along a triumphant road which leads Biaggi to the third consecutive world championship. And the manufacturer title arrives thanks to Tokudome's victories in Indonesia, Japan, Germany and San Marino, Perugini in Malaysia and Great Britain, a very young Valentino Rossi in the Czech Republic, Oettl in Italy and Gary McCoy in Australia.
In 1997 Aprilia wins two more World Championships: 125 class Rider and Manufacturer. The new colours bearer is Valentino Rossi who literally dominates the smallest class, taking 11 victories in 15 races: Malaysia, Spain, Italy, Austria, France, Holland, San Marino, Germany, Brazil, Great Britain, Catalonia and Indonesia.
The 1998 season is a triumph for Aprilia who, in the 250 class, wins 13 of the 14 GP races, leaving only the opening race in Japan to the competition. Loris Capirossi wins the Rider championship. The superiority of the Aprilia 250 has been such that its riders have taken all three steps on the podium four times. Aprilia also wins the 250 World Manufacturer Championship with a large gap.
In the 125 class Kazuto Sakata wins the Rider Championship thanks to a season of dominance in Great Britain, France, Spain and Japan.
1999 is the year of Valentino Rossi who wins the 250 title astride a fabulous two cylinder Aprilia RSW, winning on 9 occasions. Behind Rossi the Aprilia "customers" also shine with Battaini, Waldmann, McWilliams and Lucchi. Thanks also to them, Aprilia makes it a double win with the Manufacturer Championship. The bold two cylinder 500 project has a moment of great brilliance at Donington: Harada comes as close as ever to victory after the podium that Paul Ricard wins, and the fourth places from Mugello (where he had taken pole position) and Catalonia. 1999 is also the year for Aprilia's début in the SBK championship. With the two cylinder RSV Mille the Veneto-based manufacturer establishes itself for the first time with the great 4 stroke competition bikes. Consecration arrives in 2000: participating for the first time in Superbike with an official team, Aprilia astonishes: Troy Corser takes five victories and four Superpoles, just missing the title. In the World Motorcycle Racing Championship the triumphs continue: Roberto Locatelli is World Champion in the 125 class for the fifteenth world title in Aprilia history.
In 2001 SBK also brings great satisfaction with three victories (two for Corser and one for Laconi), eight podiums and three Superpoles. It is an interlocutory year in the World Motorcycle Racing Championship: in the 250 class Aprilia takes five victories while only two come in the 125 class (Cecchinello in Catalonia and Sanna in Germany).
But in 2002 the comeback is ready: Aprilia bankrupts the World Motorcycle Racing Championship with an extraordinary four of a kind comprised of 4 wreaths: two world manufacturer titles in the 125 and 250 classes and two rider titles in 250 with Marco Melandri and 125 with Arnaud Vincent. The eighth-litre Aprilias win 8 of the 16 races on the schedule, but it is in the 250 class that their supremacy is absolutely crushing. The fourth-litres from Noale win 14 of the 16 races. 2002 is also the year of the three cylinder RS Cube début which Aprilia introduces in the brand new regina MotoGP class.
In 2003 Aprilia wins three titles: 125 Manufacturer (with 10 wins), 250 Rider (a resounding Manuel Poggiali wins the championship in his début) and 250 Manufacturer (thanks to 14 victories). The MotoGP season is more troubled: the RS Cube makes a fine début in the hands of Colin Edwards and Nori Haga, takes a fastest race lap time during the French GP and shows encouraging performance; then comes a dark period which fades only toward the end.
2004 and 2005 are two transitional seasons which see Aprilia's return in off-road. The Noale Racing Division also pours its skill into Motocross, Enduro and Supermotard: the revolutionary Aprilia two cylinder engine takes Jerome Giraudo to the historic world champion title in the S2 category. The Manufacturer championship title arrives from the 125 MotoGP championship.
Thanks to becoming part of the Piaggio Group and the reorganisation of the Racing Division, Aprilia has its record season in 2006, winning six world championships: the young Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo (in the 250 class) and Alvaro Bautista (in 125) win the Rider title and ride their bikes to a double wreath in the Manufacturer standings.
Two World Supermoto titles are added (S2) to the MotoGP four-of-a-kind: Frenchman Van Den Bosch is World Champion and Aprilia wins the Manufacturer championship.
And the next season (2007) is a repeat with five championships: the Manufacturer titles in 125 and 250 are joined by Lorenzo's wreaths in 250 and Hungarian Gabor Talmacsi's in 125. The S2 Manufacturer title arrives from World Supermoto.
Two more titles from MotoGP in 2008: the Manufacturer wreaths in 125 and 250 bear witness to Aprilia's domination in the youngest classes of the world championship.
But a revolution is just around the corner and in 2009 Aprilia's most ambitious project yet begins. Simultaneously with the launch of the RSV4 on the market, a revolutionary supersport bike, characterised by an extremely advanced 1000 cc, 4 cylinder 60° V engine, Aprilia Racing plans its return to the World Superbike championship. The rider Aprilia chooses for the project is Max Biaggi whose return to Noale comes twelve years after his last title in the 250 class, with Shinja Nakano riding alongside him. The first year shows continuous growth for the bike and the first victory comes on the track at Brno. Eight more podiums are added to that victory to confirm the quality of the project and the skills of the rider. 3 world titles arrive from MotoGP: the 125 rider title with Spaniard Julian Simon Simon and the manufacturer title both in 125 and 250. In 2009 the first results for the two cylinder RXV 4.5 also arrive, a bike which Aprilia uses in the great raids of the Rally world: in the Pharaoh's Rally Paolo Ceci takes the victory in the 450 class and Aprilia ends with a solid fourth place, racing against bikes with much larger engines. It is the prologue for the Aprilia RXV 4.5's introduction to the Dakar 2010. In the most famous and gruelling of the off-road races, Aprilia RXV takes an incredible third place with Chilean Francisco Lopez (winner of three rounds) and dominates in the 450 SP class with Paolo Ceci.
But in 2010 the masterpiece is achieved in WSBK: the Aprilia Alitalia RSV4 and Max Biaggi, beginning the season with every intention of continuing the growth trend from the previous year, quickly find themselves battling at the top. Double victories come at Portimao and Monza. Placements on the podium also arrive for Leon Camier, the young Brit riding alongside Biaggi, who contributes to the Aprilia leadership in the Manufacturer rankings.
The American triumph on the Miller Raceway track launches Biaggi to the front of the standings. This is a position that in no way intimidates the already four-time World Champion and the double victories are repeated at Misano and Brno. Only the Brit, Haslam, tries to hold off Max and his red, white and green Aprilia – which takes the big Alitalia "A" to the top of a motorcycle championship – but the match ends at Imola.
Max Biaggi is World SBK Champion. He is the first Italian to win the most prestigious wreath in Superbike history and he also delivers the world Manufacturer title to Aprilia.
In the last race of the season, in Magny Cours (France), the spectacular year ends with a triumph. With the victory won by Max Biaggi the triumphant march of the Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team comes to an end after conquering all of the titles on the table in their second year on the track with the new RSV4. Aprilia soars to the top of the manufacturer standings with 47 points over Ducati, 59 over Suzuki, 119 over Yamaha, followed by Honda, BMW and Kawasaki.
Aprilia strengthens its record with 294 Grand Prix races won (151 in 125 and 143 in 250) and 38 championship titles (19 manufacturer titles and 19 rider titles). Aprilia takes the 2011 Manufacturer title in the 125 class with four races still left to go in the championship and, in the last race of the season on the Valencia circuit, the young spanish Aprilia rider Nico Terol is crowned 2011 World Champion in the 125 class.
The 2011 World Superbike season ended with the 3rd place in the riders standing for Max Biaggi, who gained two race wins and 12 podiums overall. Thanks to this results, combined with 4 podiums by teammate Leon Camier, Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team has taken 3rd place on the manufacturers standing.
Aprilia Racing won the 2011 Supermoto S1 World Championship. Both Rider and Manufacturer titles arrived in the last race: local star Adrien Chareyre, from Fast Wheels Team, on Aprilia 4.5, won the world titles at stake in the decisive French GP.
ARticle source: Aprilia Racing Press Office