Aprilia buoyant after promising debut.

Aprilia's 450cc MXV twin-cylinder could be set for a breakthrough MX1 world championship season after a promising performance in the Italian Motocross series last weekend.

Former factory Yamaha grand prix rider Cedric Melotte set the sixth fastest time in qualifying at Montevarchi, within a second of pole, with team-mate and former world champion Chicco Chiodi ninth.

While Chiodi's Sunday was terminated early, after he suffered a heavy race one fall, Melotte more than made up for the Italian's absence as he fought his way from 14th to sixth in race one, then climbed from eighth to fifth in the second outing - against a field that included the likes of factory Yamaha rider Josh Coppins and Marc de Reuver, plus factory KTM rider David Philippaerts.

"I didn't get out of the gate well in both starts," said Melotte. "However, I was able to cut in from behind a small group of riders in the second race, gaining a lot of positions with a single move. I am very happy with this debut, it couldn't have gone any better. It is now important to maintain the same level of concentration. We have a great margin of development that I think shows a lot of potential. The motorcycle has behaved quite well in both the practice and the race."

"Motocross is Aprilia's first love," declared Leo Francesco Mercanti, director of the Aprilia brand. "This is the beginning of a motorcycling and industrial adventure. After entering Supermotard, where we have won three international titles since 2004, and last year's Enduro title, we are again in Motocross - where we will encounter formidable opponents. If it is true that 'a good day starts with a good morning', I would say that we have gone above and beyond every expectation. Especially since we are at the very beginning of the motorcycle's evolution. The team and riders' solid work should be acknowledged as they deserve the credit for us being on the right path. Although we know there is much work to be done, we are confident that our twin can reach the top."

Chiodi and Melotte raced with 2006 motorcycle. The debut of the new motorcycle is expected to take place on March 10-11 at Ponte a Egola for the third round of the Italian Championship. The 2007 MX1 season starts at Valkenswaard on April 1.

Coppins took overall honours at Montevarchi, beating Philippaerts in both races.

Race 1:
1. Joshua Coppins (Yamaha)
2. David Philippaerts (Ktm)
3. Kornel Nemeth (Suzuki)
4. Marc De Reuver (Yamaha)
5. Antonie Meo (Honda)
6. Cedric Melotte (Aprilia)

Race 2:
1. Joshua Coppins (Yamaha)
2. David Philippaerts (Ktm)
3. Kornel Nemeth (Suzuki)
4. Marc De Reuver (Yamaha)
5. Cedric Melotte (Aprilia)

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