Aprilia & Biaggi: Ready to Defend Titles
2011 World Superbike Prep
The 2010 World Superbike Championship brought much success to the Italian Aprilia RSV4 and its Italian pilot Max Biaggi.
At 39-years old, Biaggi won his first World Superbike Championship (he has four others in the World Championship), becoming the first Italian to achieve a WSBK title. And he did it all on an Aprilia RSV4, a bike that was only in its sophomore year of World Superbike competition.
Due to the impressive 2010 performance, Aprilia also won the manufacturer’s championship in WSBK, which adds to 45 world titles earned throughout various motorcycle racing disciplines.
For 2011, the Aprilia team enters its third year of competition with the RSV4, and will be looking to defend its title, as will Biaggi. The Roman Emperor will be rejoined by teammate Leon Camier, the Brit who continues to get stronger each race.
Biaggi and Caimier will be joined on the Alitalia Aprili team by Gigi dall’Igna, who was recently confirmed in the dual role of Technical and Sport Director. Francesco Guidotti is Team Manager, head technician for Max Biaggi is Giovanni Sandi, while Emanuele Martinelli coordinates the activities of Camier’s team.
Following is an interview with Biaggi as the Aprilia team prepares for this weekend’s season opener at Phillip Island, Australia, Round 1 of 13 in the 2011 World Superbike Championship.
Max Biaggi Interview:
Q. As world champions you and Aprilia will be the reference point for the adversaries. Are you ready for this new challenge?
Biaggi: Our success in 2010 will certainly put us in everybody’s cross-hairs. But we can’t allow ourselves to be intimidated by the pressure. The right road is one of hard work and calm. The stakes are high. Winning is very difficult but proving yourself at the top is much, much harder. We are aware of this and so, first and foremost, we will not underestimate our adversaries. We have a great team, a beautiful bike, I am feeling great and I try not to be lacking in motivation.
Q. Speaking of the bike, how did the RSV4 seem to you during the pre-season tests?
Biaggi: Quick, but that’s nothing new by now. The feeling is excellent; we just need to refine those little things which need improvement while maintaining the strong points of a bike which is undoubtedly competitive. Our strategy is pragmatic: it calls for small steps, continuous evolution without radical changes. The guys on the track and at Noale (Aprilia headquarters in the province of Venice – editor’s note) work nonstop to provide us with the best material and then my job is to use it as best I can.
Q. Marco Melandri arrives in Superbike, Leon Haslam will certainly want a rematch: how do you see your opponents?
Biaggi: It’s difficult to judge worth on the field and it will stay like that even after the first race. Only about halfway through the season will we really be able to tell who made the right choices and did the best work. Undoubtedly there are various riders, besides Melandri and Haslam, I think Rea as well, who have great potential and excellent bikes. And don’t forget about a couple of old foxes like Checa and Haga. It will be truly difficult to defend the title, but we’ll have fun – that’s for sure.
Q. You are the first Italian to ever have won the World Superbike championships, but before achieving this historic milestone – and what’s more, astride an Italian bike – you have always said that you loved the WSBK competition.
Biaggi: I confirm all of that. I liked it straight away, also because I adapted well to the riding style which these bikes demand. The leveled playing field and the great competitive spirit which distinguishes Superbike do the rest. It’s not by chance that the enthusiasts consider ours to be the most spectacular championship on two wheels. Brawling on the track and a relaxed, friendly atmosphere in the paddock: this is the right spirit.
Q. And yet after the championship, when everyone expected an automatic renewal of your commitment in WSBK with Aprilia, you "gave" your fans quite a bit of suspense: in the fall there was explicit talk of retiring from racing. How much of that was true?
Biaggi: After such a hard season and after having achieved such an important milestone, I think it was only right to stop for a moment and think… reflect. To see whether deep down there was still the motivation, the strength to face another season. I never have and I never will do things halfway, just for the sake of doing them. A championship like the one that awaits us must be taken on with absolute motivation and dedication. I needed to have my family close to me, my affections, to understand what I needed to do. It was the right thing to do and now I have no doubts about the choice I made.
Q. Besides being a point of reference on the track, you are also the rider who is on TV the most, the most photographed and the most sought after by fans and journalists. How do you live this side of your work?
Biaggi: I can’t help but be pleased by it because if you are sought after then it means people admire you. I have always welcomed contact with the public, especially with my most passionate fans who often prepare surprises for me after the chequered flag. Our fans are our true strength. It is what pushes us to give our maximum even in the most complicated situations.