When Aprilia officially announced it would enter a factory effort in MotoGP’s premier class in 2016, the news spread quickly throughout the industry.
But on Friday, the Italian manufacturer – owned by the Piaggio Group – said it will enter MotoGP in 2015 – one year earlier.
That means with the return of Suzuki and now Aprilia, the 2015 MotoGP grid will consists of five “Factory” manufacturers – the latter two along with Ducati, Honda and Yamaha.
Aprilia Racing has signed a contract with Gresini Racing, which will run the prototypes through 2018. As for riders, no one has been assigned yet. But Marco Melandri, the 2002 250cc MotoGP Champion (Aprilia machinery), is helping develop the prototype. Melandri is currently piloting an RSV4 for Arpilia Racing in World Superbike.
“We decided to make our debut a year earlier than planned because Aprilia Racing’s technical and competitive skills are absolutely top notch” says Piaggio Group’s Chairman and CEO, Roberto Colaninno. Growth in Superbike has been exemplary in this direction from our rookie year in 2009 to the five world titles we’ve won so far with the RSV4.”
“Piaggio Group has been managing Aprilia since 2005, and in less than ten years Aprilia won 26 of the 52 world titles earned in the entire brand history. In addition to these there are also four more titles: Marco Simoncelli’s 250 world championship with Gilera and three 125 class world championships won by Derbi, which is also part of the Piaggio Group and which took a very young Marc Marquez to his first world title win.”
The manager of Gresini Racing, two-time 125cc Champion Fausto Gresini, also commented: “I am very glad that Aprilia identified Gresini Racing as the ideal partner to enter the MotoGP World Championship: I would like to thank the Piaggio Group for giving me a fantastic opportunity, that is working closely with such a glorious manufacturer; an Italian brand that has become a synonymous of passion for racing, reaching amazing results worldwide.
“The four years agreement between Gresini Racing and Aprilia opens a new chapter in our history: in this moment I feel a great responsibility, but the motivation to succeed in this exciting, all Italian challenge is even bigger.
“The Grand Prix world is part of the Aprilia brand and to represent it in the premier class, the MotoGP World Championship, is a source of great pride for all of us. An incredible reward for the work done in all these years by Gresini Racing”.
Aprilia Racing & Gresini Racing History (courtesy of Aprilia Racing & Gresini Racing)
The Aprilia trophy case currently includes 294 wins and 38 championship titles in the Grand Prix motorcycle racing championship (19 Manufacturer and 19 Rider), 45 wins and 5 world titles in WSBK (three manufacturer and two rider) and nine world championships in off road disciplines.
Many recent protagonists in the motorcycle racing world have raced, won and been educated astride Aprilia bikes such as Max Biaggi, Loris Capirossi, Valentino Rossi, Marco Melandri, Manuel Poggiali, Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner. And even Marc Marquez earned his first world title astride a Derbi 125, also a Piaggio Group brand, contributing to the 102 world titles that the Piaggio Group can boast in its own collection of wreaths, achieved not only by Aprilia but also by legendary brands such as Moto Guzzi, Gilera and Derbi.
Managed by two-time 125cc class world champion Fausto Gresini, Gresini Racing has been in Grand Prix motorcycle racing since 1997, achieving prestigious results: in addition to the two titles won in 2001 with Daijiro Kato (250cc) and in 2010 with Toni Elias (Moto2), the 40 wins and 114 podiums earned, there are also the MotoGP runner up titles achieved for three consecutive seasons in 2003 and 2004 with Sete Gibernau and in 2005 with Marco Melandri.
Gresini Racing has been home to top calibre champions such as Alex Barros, Loris Capirossi, Colin Edwards and Marco Simoncelli. The Gresini Racing organisation is currently involved in all the Grand Prix motorcycle racing classes. In fact, they are key players in the 2014 season with Alvaro Bautista and Scott Redding in MotoGP, Xavier Siméon and Lorenzo Baldassarri in Moto2 and with Niccolò Antonelli and Enea Bastianini in Moto3.