Punching above its weight in racing

Author

Motor Sport

View profile
Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

How a relative newcomer made it to the top

Aprilia hasn’t been making motorcycles for very long but has achieved a huge amount of success in road racing during the past few decades.

Just like Ducati, the company began life soon after the Second World War, but Aprilia started out producing bicycles, not motorcycles. In the late 1960s Aprilia ventured into powered two wheelers – mopeds first, then motocross bikes.

By the mid-1980s Aprilia had built its first Grand Prix bike, powered by a Rotax Tandem-Twin 250 two-stroke. In August 1987 Loris Reggiani rode the machine to the company’s first GP win.

The Aprilia/Rotax relationship blossomed. By the early 1990s Rotax-powered Aprilias were the fastest bikes in the 125 and 250 classes. But the more vicious power delivery of the rotary-valve engines made the machines harder to ride than the rival hondas and Yamahas, powered by reed-valve two-strokes.

Thanks to clever use of fast-improving engine-management technology, Aprilia tamed their engines until they were good enough to win World Championships. The factory won the 125 title in 1992 and the 250 in 1994 with Max Biaggi, who would return many years later to give Aprilia its first World superbike crown.

Aprilia has now won a total of 37 world titles in GP racing (18 riders’ crowns and 19 constructors’) and 294 GP victories in the 125 and 250 classes. Only Honda and Yamaha – both of them much, much bigger companies – have won more GP victories.

Aprilia’s success in the smaller GP classes was helped by the fact that Honda and Yamaha gave up two-stroke development. Eventually the Italians became so dominant that MotoGP rights-holder Dorna took measures to prevent that dominance continuing. Dorna hated the fact that Aprilia monopolised both the 125 and 250 grids, charging extortionate prices (in Dorna’s opinion) and choosing which riders were blessed with the best bikes and which got lesser machinery. In the end, Dorna broke the monopoly by killing off both classes and replacing them with the four-stroke Moto3 and Moto2 Championships.

Aprilia had known the game was up for some while. The two-stroke street bike was being legislated out of existence by environmental restrictions. That’s why Aprilia started diversifying into four-stroke superbikes, first with the RSV Mille V-twin in the late 1990s, then with the RSV4 in 2009.

Aprilia has also had a go at MotoGP. In 2002 its RS3 Cube, using a three-cylinder 990cc engine largely designed by Cosworth, became the first MotoGP machine to crack 200mph.
the RS3 scored other firsts: it was the first MotoGP machine to use pneumatic valve springs and a ride-by-wire throttle.

But the bike didn’t live up to its promise and the project was scrapped after the company was bought by piaggio – best known for Vespa scooters – in 2004. In fact races dominated by Aprilia two-strokes are not entirely a thing of the past. In Britain, Aprilia’s superteen race series gives teenagers the chance to start their careers on barely modified RS125 two-stroke road bikes. The low-cost championship allows riders to compete at the same level. Current MotoGP and World Superbike riders Casey Stoner, Cal Crutchlow, Chaz Davies, Bradley Smith and Leon Camier all started out in superteens.

On the road, Aprilia is the choice of riders who desire italian exotica but prefer not to make the obvious choice.

Related articles

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consetetur sadipscing elitr, sed diam nonumy eirmod tempor invidunt ut labore et dolore

Related products

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consetetur sadipscing elitr, sed diam nonumy eirmod tempor invidunt ut labore et dolore