Aprilia’s Biaggi Previews 2012 World SBK

2012 World Superbike

Max Biaggi has a long history with Aprilia, and he’ll continue this history during the 2012 World Superbike Championship.

This will be the 40-year-old Italian’s fourth year with the Aprilia World Superbike Team, which, he garnered his first World Superbike Championship with in 2010. The title was also the first one for Italian in the World SBK series.

Biaggi began racing in 1989, winning the Italian Sport Production Championship the following year. His ties with Aprilia began in the 250 class where he became European Champion in 1991, but his world consecration came three years later: in 1994 Max rode an Aprilia to become the 250 class World Champion, the first of four consecutive wreaths.

Back astride a bike from Noale in 2009, the year the new RSV4 made its debut in World Superbike, the Corsair confirmed his feeling with Aprilia the following year when he became the first Italian to win the factory derivative World Championship.

Aprilia held a 2012 World SBK team presentation in Milan Monday with Biaggi and new teammate Eugene Laverty; here’s what Biaggi had to say about the upcoming season.

Q. New year, new challenge: after an unlucky 2011, how are you feeling about the upcoming season?

Max Biaggi (Aprilia RSV4 Superbike) says: "New challenge, but… the same Max! All joking aside, my motivation remains unchanged. If anything, I have to say that it has increased even more after what happened in 2011. We were coming off a World triumph, with a lot of expectations and all eyes on our results, but things didn’t go as planned. That’s water under the bridge. Now we’re looking forward to the new season with only one goal: to win."

Q. For the fourth year in a row you’ll ride the RSV4 onto the track. A successful duo?

Max Biaggi says: "My relationship with the RSV4 is a particular one. I can say without any false modesty that I witnessed its birth and have watched it grow up. We took it to the track, developed it and took it to the top step of the podium many times, in spite of the adversities. We’re a close couple, we have our rough spots, but we also know how to get through them. I think that the RSV4 still has a lot to say in this championship and, given the level of competition, I’ll certainly have to bring the most out of it."

Q. Speaking of competition, have the various changes of uniforms altered the balance of the championship?

Max Biaggi says: "Like I always say, 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.

"Based on what we’ve seen thus far, Ducati and Honda seem to be the fairly tough competitors, but I don’t underestimate anyone because BMW and Kawasaki have also gotten stronger and they’re aiming for the big target. This will be an even more heated season than 2011 if that’s possible."

Q. One of the adversaries is no doubt your new team mate, Eugene Laverty.

Max Biaggi says: "Undoubtedly, in racing the first rival to beat is the one that has the same equipment as you. I look at it as a nice challenge, positive for the Team and for us riders who are forced to always give it our all. I’m happy to see another RSV4 being competitive on the grid. It confirms that in these three years we’ve done a good job of developing it."

Q. A less technical question: will you go back to using your "historic" number – 3?

Max Biaggi says: "Unfortunately I have to say ‘yes’, because that means that we weren’t able to defend the number 1 we earned in 2010. In all actuality, the 3 never completely disappeared. Even inside the graphic we used for the number 1 you could see my old number. We riders are superstitious. I’m attached to the number 3 and I wear it proudly because I associate it with a lot of great emotions that I’ve had during my career. We’ll see if I have to replace it again at the end of the year."