9 September 2014
Aprilia boss talks World Superbike future
“One scenario is that Aprilia will disappear from here... The other is an agreement with a partner to allow this participation to go on”
Aprilia's Sporting manager Romano Albesiano has confirmed that the Italian firm is currently considering its future in the World Superbike series as it plans to make an official return to MotoGP.
The Noale factory is set to announce its participation in the 2015 premier class in the coming weeks. Albesiano stated this was partly because of the upcoming World Superbike regulation changes that will be implemented at the close of the year.
Speaking to Crash.net at Jerez, Albesiano said, “If we confirm to be in MotoGP next year there are two scenarios: One scenario is that Aprilia will disappear from here, it will stop. The other, which is what I hope will happen, is we are working on an agreement with a partner to allow this participation to go on.”
It is believed several teams including Althea and Alstare are both vying to run Aprilia's World Superbike operation in 2015 but Albesiano couldn't comment any further on this speculation.
Asked to expand on why the firm was disappointed with the upcoming rule changes in the class, he said it was a feeling that had been building for some time.
“I mean we are disappointed since a long time because when we started doing the RSV project,” he said. “At the time I was in charge of R&D. Mr Dall'Igna [now general manager of Ducati Corse] was in charge of racing. So together we said we have to do a production bike, which fits perfectly with the racing and with the recent regulations.
“So we made a cassette gearbox, the ride-by-wire with two separate motors... a racing bike. The RSV4 is a racing bike; I mean [in terms of] the production. And then year after year some things have been allowed to the competitors - the ride-by-wire for example. Now [there is] the possibility to modify the chassis. Some of the adjustments that were possible on the RSV have been denied. Every year this has happened more and more. Now this year in Italy we say 'the drop that makes the glass spill.'” [Translates as the straw that broke the camel's back]
The Superbike races at Jerez posed another dilemma for the Aprilia hierarchy – that of team orders. Sylvain Guintoli's championship challenge wasn't aided by team-mate Marco Melandri overtaking him in the late stages of both races, denying him ten valuable championship points.
Albesiano confirmed it is only something he would consider in exceptional circumstances. “In very extreme situations we could do something,” he said. “But it must be a very extreme situation.”
It is believed Melandri is one of the riders chosen to spearhead Aprilia's MotoGP return. Although he couldn't confirm this, Albesiano said of the Italian, “We probably lost some opportunities to lead in the first part of the season with Marco. He took some time to fit the bike to him. We lost some races, too many races probably. The competitive level of Marco could have been this [his current form] from the beginning...
“And also with Sylvain, he had the level that we expected. Unfortunately he crashed in Assen when he was in second place and clearly the fastest rider on track. Ok, the Portimao affair or scandal [laughs], whatever you want to call it… without these two situations we would be very close to Tom [Sykes].”
The Aprilias went on to score their second double one-two finish of the season at Jerez on Sunday. Guintoli's two second places skimmed thirteen points off Sykes' championship lead. With two rounds left to play and 31 points separating the top two in the series Albesiano believes his man still has a fighting chance, cancelled rounds permitting.
“He [Guintoli] is always motivated. I've never seen him with low motivation. He knows that he can win. It's not easy because Tom is very fast. We will try until the end. There are not enough races [laughs]! I hope there will be no more races cancelled!”
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