Aprilia has achieved its 'dream' of running up front from the start of the 2009 World Superbike Championship, according to the factory's technical director Gigi Dall'Igna.

During the first three rounds of the season, Max Biaggi has taken the new RSV4 to two front row starts and two podium finishes, placing the Roman seventh in the current championship standings - and only eleven points from third.

Team-mate and class rookie Shinya Nakano claimed a best race finish of fourth in round two at Losail, before fracturing a collarbone during practice for the Valencia round.

"What we were interested in was seeing if we could be up with the best right from the start. Before the start of the championship this was a dream, now after three rounds I can say it's a reality," Dall'Igna told the official World Superbike website. "So far we've shown that we have done a good job, now we must make further steps forward".

Those further steps involve refinement of fuel delivery and a better understanding of how track temperature affects the Pirelli tyres.

"On a technical level there are a few components, like the variable intakes, which arrived a bit late," revealed Dall'Inga. "We struggled with fuel feed problems, which meant that the pre-season tests were a bit complicated.

"I have to say that we were pretty good at managing the situation because when you've got problems in January, with the championship beginning at the start of March, it's not easy to remain clear-headed and focused.

"And we're lacking a bit of experience. For example, when the temperature changes we're struggling to find the right compromise between tyres and set-up, but we're working on it.

"We have steps scheduled for the engine and the electronics. We think we've still got a lot of room for improvement and we'll be working on this throughout the season".

Aprilia is now approaching each round aiming for the podium, starting next time out at Assen - when Dall'Inga hopes Nakano will be fit to return.

"To be honest we've already proved we can [battle for the podium]. We are in amongst the leading group and this is a source of great satisfaction for us," he said.

"I spoke to [Nakano] recently and he'll be back training soon," Dall'Inga added. "I'm optimistic about Assen, there aren't many days left until then, but in any case he'll be out in free practice on the Friday".

Aprilia heads to Assen fifth in the manufacturers' championship, ahead of BMW and Kawasaki and within 16 points of third placed Honda.

Ducati and Yamaha, whose riders Noriyuki Haga and Ben Spies have won every race so far this year, occupy the top two positions. Suzuki sits fourth.


Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment