Aprilia, who have won over 38 titles in the 125cc and 250cc GP classes, held the official launch of their factory racing team in Milan on Thursday.
Officially known as the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini, they have formed a partnership with legendary team manager Fausto Gresini as they line up on the MotoGP grid one year earlier than originally planned.
The reason for their premature return to the premier class was to allow them to use this season exclusively to develop their RS-GP bike before they unleash their “full factory” prototype machine next year. The two riders who will spearhead this ambitious development program are 2002 250cc World Champion Marco Melandri, and 2006 125cc World Champion Alvaro Bautista.
“We have already been on the track for the first testing sessions of this new adventure that officially starts today,” said Aprilia Racing Manager Romano Albesiano. “We chose to move up our start date, getting into the mix in the 2015 MotoGP World Championship because we believe that this is the solution which is certainly the most risky but also the best one to become competitive as quickly as possible. We certainly could have avoided the pressure and waited until next year, but that’s not what Aprilia wanted. In terms of development we are starting on a solid foundation, which is the result of our winning experience in Superbike and the ART project, the only CRT that was able to show potential close to ‘real’ MotoGP bikes. For us this will be a year of testing, development and in some ways even sacrifice, to be taken full advantage of as we look toward to 2016 when we will be able to ride a real Aprilia prototype bike onto the track.”
“I like this new challenge,” said Bautista. “It gives me new stimulation and great motivation. We are well aware that we have a lot of work to do and we are also aware that this will be a season marked by development, so we aren’t setting any goals for ourselves except to improve race by race, working hard. I was very pleased with the first two test sessions in Malaysia. It was nice to see a lot of people working hard to improve and listening to my requests. All of our mechanics are top notch and they all have a drive that makes for an excellent atmosphere in the garage."
“Following Aprilia in its ambitious return to MotoGP is a brave choice, especially after the decision to move the plans up,” admitted Melandri. “I am very motivated. I am confident and I know what this racing department is capable of, although that doesn’t change the difficulties that we will inevitably have to face. There are also some advantages, like being able to ‘tailor’ myself to a bike, something that I have never been able to do until now in my career, helping the guys in the development process and giving them my indications. For now it is just a matter of acquiring a feeling with the bike-tire package, much different than the one I used last year. We have a long road ahead of us, but I believe that with patience and determination we’ll be able to achieve a good level, realistically in the second half of the season.”