RSV4 SBK Season Review
The 2009 SBK World Superbike Championships came to an end in Portimao and closed out a season that witnessed Aprilia as the protagonist with its brand new, revolutionary Aprilia RSV4. The Aprilia company, which is based in the Region of Veneto and is now a part of the Piaggio Group, debuted its new V4 65° Cylinder RSV4 on the track and returned to the World Superbike Championship after a seven year absence. And they did it well.
The Aprilia RSV4 is a motorcycle that has raised a great deal of interest on the racetrack due to the project’s originality at both the technical and aesthetic levels. As well, enthusiasts who have laid down their RSV4 deposits eagerly await the road version. The Aprilia RSV4 immediately demonstrated all of its glorious equipment on the track and on the SBK World Championship results sheets. A WSBK series that is unprecedentedly competitive, featuring seven different manufacturers battling it out with one another.
Max Biaggi’s return to Aprilia, after almost fourteen years of victories in 250 races, made the expectations for the all-Italian bike and driver combo even greater. The Japanese driver Shinya Nakano also raced alongside Max for the Aprilia team.
The expectations were met: the Aprilia RSV4 astonished people from the outset. During the first race, at the Australian track of Phillip Island, Biaggi finished second place in the Superpole and in Race 2 he battled it out for a spot on the podium up until the final lap. Despite the delusion in Australia, Max was successful in the very next race in Qatar, where he would climb atop the third place position on the podium for both races. During the first part of the season, the Aprilia RSV4 certainly paid its dues for its debut. The lack of data to work with and the impossibility of being able to perform tests complicated the team’s work, making it necessary to find the best settings with very little time during the race weekends. Despite these difficulties Max Biaggi managed to finish in the top 5 in every single race.
At Monza he conquered the third place position in Race 1 but was then penalized after the race for a questionable cut along the chicane. Then, both Max and the Aprilia RSV4 took a decisive turn for the season at Donington. Biaggi, after an impassioned duel with Spies, conquered a fabulous second place position but it was during the following race that he completed his masterpiece.
At Brno the Roman driver started off well and after just a few laps there was contact between Fabrizio and Spies, clearing the way for Max. Along with his Aprilia RSV4, he secured the first victory of the season and – to complete a fantastic weekend – he finished in second place in Race 2. Biaggi climbed atop the second step of the Podium once again in Race 1 at Imola, while Marco Simoncelli, called in to replace an injured Nakano, took the RSV4 to third place; for the first time both of Aprilia’s drivers were on the podium.
As confirmation of a level of competitiveness that had reached a fever pitch by that time, Biaggi conquered two more podium positions at Magny Cours: a third place position in Race 1 and second place in Race 2. During the final round of Portimao, Max climbed atop the podium again: he came in third in Race 1 and ended the season in fourth place in the overall rankings, the same position held by Aprilia in the manufacturer’s classification.
In the end, the Aprilia RSV4′s list of awards for the 2009 season include one victory (Biaggi at Brno 1) and nine podium positions (Biaggi at Qatar 1 and 2, Donington 1, Brno 2, Imola 1, Magny Cours 1 and 2 and Portimao 1; Simoncelli at Imola 2). The seven first row positions should also be added to these results (six for Biaggi and one for Nakano, with both of the RSV4s in the first row at Donington), the track record at Brno and the record for the fastest speed ever recorded by a Superbike during a race, reaching 204 mph at Monza.