Aprilia has officially presented its new RSV4 motorcycle, with which Max Biaggi will headline the Italian factory's much-anticipated return to World Superbike competition in 2009.
Aprilia last raced in WSBK during 2002, using V-twin machinery, but - as the name 'RSV4' implies - it will return with a V4 design.
V4 engines are used by Honda, Ducati and Suzuki to power their MotoGP prototypes, but are presently absent from the WSBK grid, where the Japanese manufacturers use 1000cc inline four-cylinders against Ducati's 1200cc V-twins. BMW, which will also enter WSBK next season, is to field an inline four-cylinder machine.
Unlike fellow Italian manufacturer Ducati, Aprilia has never won a World Superbike or MotoGP World Championship, but it has amassed 31 world titles in the smaller GP classes and has claimed eight race victories in WSBK. Those WSBK wins all came during the 2000/2001 seasons, when Troy Corser stood on top of the podium seven times and Regis Laconi once.
Aprilia is still to officially announce Max Biaggi's team-mate, but has released the following technical information about its new World Superbike racer:
"Aprilia is proud to present the RSV4, the bike with which Aprilia will return to the Superbike World Championship in 2009. This extraordinary machine has been conceived, designed and developed entirely by Aprilia Racing for competition use.
"The RSV4 will make its debut in the 2009 Superbike World Championship. With four cylinders, 999 cc and top of the class power in the race-ready version, this revolutionary machine is packed with innovative design and manufacturing solutions of the sort we have come to expect from Aprilia.
"A V-four engine with total electronic management, and an exceptionally light and compact chassis are just some of the features that make this bike unique in the world of motorcycling. The revolutionary design of the Aprilia RSV4 comes directly from Europe's biggest and most successful racing team.
"The Aprilia RSV4 is powered by the most revolutionary and most powerful engine ever developed by Aprilia. This 65° V four unit is based on an architecture that is unique in the world of supersport motorcycles, and features refined engineering combined with prestigious materials and advanced electronic management solutions.