Aprilia presented its race livery for the all-new 2016 RS-GP today in Qatar, just before the start of the final pre-season test.
The new bike, substantially lighter than the previous superbike-based machine and now believed to feature a counter-rotating crankshaft, made its debut in a private test at the same Losail circuit from February 21-23.
The new prototype, again ridden by Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista, will now face its 2016 rivals for the first rime during this week's three-night test, which gets underway later today.
The new racing season then begins at Losail on the evening of March 20.
“The upcoming season will be a very important one for us", said Aprilia Racing Manager Romano Albesiano. "The new bike reflects recent Aprilia Racing tradition, reinterpreting every concept without compromise, and it is the most ambitious project our racing department has ever undertaken.
"The first responses from testing have been positive. We received very positive feedback from both riders specifically from a dynamics point of view. In any case, this is the beginning of a long path and we are well aware of the inevitable difficulties that come along with any new project."
Albesiano added: "We can count on the contribution of an expert team and two highly motivated riders like Alvaro and Stefan, who immediately realised the importance of our development plan and the great efforts put forth by the racing department.
"I believe that, after the initial fine-tuning phase, we'll be able to set our sights on respectable results."
Aprilia, which like Suzuki is eligible for this year's reduced range of technical concessions, scored 36 points last season with a best race result of tenth.
The Italian factory already has a contract with Moto2 star Sam Lowes for 2017.
"This season will be a new challenge, my second year with Aprilia", said Bautista. "We'll be able to rely on our experience from 2015. We aren't starting from zero, but in any case we'll have to develop a completely new bike. I think that Aprilia has very clear ideas about what they can expect this season. In any case, it will be a big challenge because we'll have to work hard on race weekends since we have done very little testing. We'll need to be good at streamlining things.
"To be honest, it would be nice to be competitive around the mid-season mark. It's difficult to predict now because there are so many things that need to be sorted, but I'm confident because during the winter break Aprilia did a great job with the data gathered in 2015. I'm pumped up and I want to have a good season, getting back into the battle for top positions, but I am under no illusions. With patience, hard work and sacrifice we can do it."
"The first contact with the new bike was definitely positive, despite the fact that it's still too early to take a position," said Bradl. "The Aprilia Racing techs did a great job in the right direction. Now our job will be to explore the potential of the RS-GP lap after lap. We really have a lot on our plate, but we also have a wide margin for improvement.
"Along with the new bike, we also have the new electronics and tyres, aspects that we had already begun working on but that still require a lot of development. We won't be bored, that much is certain. For the first time in my career I'm working on an official team with the job of developing a new project. I think that this is the greatest condition possible for a rider who wants to set his sights on staying out front."