Aprilia: GP and SBK Racing History

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Aprilia Racing History

Although Aprilia may be a relatively new name to many motorcycle enthusiasts in America, the company has earned a heady and impressive presence on the world stage of racing ever since the Italian brand garnered their first significant victory in 1987.

The ensuing twenty-three years have seen Aprilia victorious in a number of disciplines, from 125cc and 250cc MotoGP road racing motorcycles, to 1000cc superbikes, revolutionary V-twin motocross and supermotard racebikes, to trials and Dakar, culminating with the introduction of the V-4 powered RSV4 Superbike.

In a dramatic challenge to the seemingly omnipotent Japanese of 1985, Aprilia first entered the 250cc MotoGP Motorcycle World Championship. Their bike had an aluminum perimeter frame with a mono-shock and pro lever suspension and was saddled with a two-cylinder Rotax engine.

Rider Loris Reggiani took the machine to two podium finishes in its first season. Aprilia engineers continued to refine the 250cc GP machine, culminating with the brand’s first Motorcycle Grand Prix win, which came in August, 1987 at the Misano Circuit.

In 1988 April entered the 125cc class where their machines immediately proved their worth. Podium finishes were amassed but the world title eluded the Italian company. A fully redesigned 250cc GP motorcycle, the RS250V, was given birth in 1991 and quickly earned the top spot on the podium in the hands of Frankie Chili (at Assen) and Reggiani (at Paul Ricard).

The 1991, 1992, and 1993 seasons saw the ascension of Aprilia on the world stage, with Alex Gramigni winning Aprilia their first world title in the 125cc class in 1992 and the amazingly talented and smooth, Max Biaggi, bringing them their first 250cc World Title in 1994-Aprilia also wins the 125cc title that year with rider Kazuto Sakata. Biaggi would repeat his championship ways in the 250 class for Aprilia in 1995 and 1996, earning three consecutive motorcycle-racing championships.

Enter Valentino Rossi. 1997 sees the emergence of the future king of MotoGP with his first 125cc title riding an Aprilia. He does it in convincing fashion, winning eleven victories in the fifteen race series. In 1998 Aprilia enjoys a nearly perfect year in the 250 class, winning thirteen of fourteen races, with Loris Capirossi winning the title. Aprilia wins the coveted manufacturer’s title that year as well.

In 1999, Valentino Rossi, after just one season in the 250cc class, wins the title in convincing manner, taking nine victories. Cadres of Aprilia motorcycles follow, earning two manufacturer’s titles (125 and 250).

That same year Aprilia makes its debut in World SBK with the V-twin RSV Mille, marking the manufacturer’s official entry into four-stroke competition. In 2000, with a proper full team effort, Troy Corser takes five wins and four pole positions in the machines first official year in WSBK. Meanwhile in 125cc, Roberto Locatelli takes the 125cc crown, marking Aprilias fifteenth world motorcycle-racing title.

In 2002 Aprilia wins the 125 and 250 world titles with riders Marco Melandri (250) and Arnaud Vincent (125), as well as the manufactuer titles in both classes. This year also sees the unveiling of the impressive three-cylinder RS Cube in MotoGP. 2003; Aprilia takes home the 250 title as well as manufacturer crowns in 125 and 250.

In 2004 the Piaggio Group acquired Aprilia, which mark two years of reorganization with a new focus on off-road. Aprilia’s new V-twin takes Jerome Giraudo to a world title in the S2 Supermoto category.

2006 sees Jorge Lorenzo take the 250 title and Alvaro Bautista win the 125cc class. That year also sees Aprilia add two more Supermotard titles to their ever-expanding trophy case. In 2007 Lorenzo repeats with the 250 GP title while Gabor Talmacsi takes the 125 GP title.

Following two manufacturer titles in 2008 for the 125 and 250 class, Aprilia launches their most ambitious project to date; 2009 and the introduction of the formidable RSV4 Superbike, intended to take on the world in WSBK.

Former Aprilia pilot, Max Biaggi, is reunited with the manufacturer to go after the title. That same year Aprilia wins the 125 GP Championship with Julian Simon Simon, as well as earning stage wins in the grueling Dakar Rally with their 450 off-road motorcycle.

The years of racing culminates in 2010 with Max Biaggi putting on a masterful display of talent aboard the equally impressive RSV4 to win the highly coveted and challenging World Superbike Championship.

He becomes the first Italian to win the title in the series’ 22-year history, garnering yet another division of race dominance. Since its entry into international motorcycle racing in 1985 Aprilia has earned an amazing 45 world championships. One can only wonder what 2011 might yield.