MotoGP is the pinnacle of two-wheeler races, sitting at the helm with riders racing prototype machines that make nearly 300bhp of power from naturally aspirated 1000cc four-cylinder motorcycles. MotoGP has seen various manufacturers take the crown since its debut in 1949, such as Yamaha, Ducati, MV Agusta, Honda, and so on.
Over the years, the number of cylinders increased, along with the displacement, and layout, and underwent various technical changes, attracting new brands, such as KTM. One of the newest teams is Aprilia, which made a comeback in 2022 as a full-spec factory team with Maverick Viñales, Lorenzo Savadori, and Aleix Espargarò onboard.
Aprilia, also for the first time, has multiple motorcycles on the grid along with its satellite team, RNF, in 2023 and is looking ahead to a good season, With MotoGP coming to India for the first time, Financial Express spoke to Aprilia Racing’s CEO, Massimo Rivoli, and Romano Albesiano, the Technical Director.
What’s new on the 2023 Aprilia MotoGP motorcycles compared to last year?
The evolution of the Aprilia RS-GP involved every single aspect. The V4 engine has increased in power and maximum RPMs whilst maintaining its rideability. The chassis architecture relies on a frame that has been revisited based on the riders’ requests, aiming for traction and stability. The aerodynamics maintains the concepts introduced in 2022 such as the curved side panel or the characteristic configuration of the front winglet and evolves them. The electronics benefit from the introduction of a new Magneti Marelli ECU and refined strategy management, the object of constant work will continue race after race.
All teams have worked on Aero this year with interesting designs for downforce. What has Aprilia done?
Aerodynamics is becoming more and more important in MotoGP, so we are working a lot on this area. We modified the front wing, to maximize the downforce without increasing drag, optimised the design of the lower fairing introduced during the 2022 season, and we are currently testing some new solutions like the rear wing and other winglets in the front of the bike.
What kind of tech has helped in MotoGP from Aprilia WSBK knowledge?
At the beginning of our path in MotoGP, we believed that our know-how in WSBK could be helpful, but quickly we found out that we would need to start almost from scratch, raising the level a lot. It’s been a difficult task, but we succeeded, improving our technical package year by year, building our know-how, improving the team on track and our racing department in Noale, and now we can fight at the top.
F1 has seen a reduction in engine size over the years and even turbochargers, while MotoGP has seen an increase in engine sizes over the years. What is the future?
Apart from the 800cc period, we have always used 1000cc engines since the introduction of the 4-stroke MotoGP class in 2003. The performance of the engines has increased year on year reaching the 300hp range. The manufacturers are currently discussing a series of rule changes to control this escalation of power and improve the efficiency of the MotoGP engines in the future.
What kind of components are shared or supplied to Aprilia’s Satellite teams?
We supply our bikes to our satellite team, RNF, and we are very happy with this new partnership because, for the first time, we have four bikes on track allowing us to have more data to analyse during the race weekends and to improve. We supply the 2022 RS-GP bikes to RNF, but our development work never stops, and they can also have some new parts tested by the factory team.
Being the first race in India, what are your expectations?
The track is new for us, so we don’t know what to expect in terms of performance, but we are optimistic because so far the Aprilia RS-GP has been competitive almost everywhere. We can’t wait to put on a great show for all the Aprilia fans in India!
What can be unique challenges faced by Aprilia, or MotoGP when it comes to the Indian GP?
Racing on a new track is always a challenge for everyone: for the riders, the engineers and the team, so for sure, it will be a tough weekend, but we like to face new challenges. Today, MotoGP is extremely competitive, and the fight at the top is always tight, but we also saw in the past that racing on a new track can shuffle the cards, so maybe we will see some surprises.
What is your outlook on the Buddh circuit in India? What changes have to be done to accommodate speeds achieved by MotoGP?
The layout of the track is not bad at all, it’s complete: there is a long back straight and some hard braking points, which is good for overtakes, and also fast corners and chicanes where the RS-GP should be competitive. I think that riders will like to ride there, and the fans will enjoy the action. Speaking about the speed of MotoGP, for sure now is not easy to cope with that, but we know that Dorna is making a good job on this side, so we are confident that the track will be in line with the standards.