Aprilia's new MotoGP bike to debut spring 2015

Racing Department head Romano Albesiano confirms engine layout will be V4 with gear-driven camshafts, prototypes already being made

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Circa six months into his new role as the head of Aprilia racing's department, Romano Albesiano is just as busy as the first day. A manager with a strong engineering background – he worked with Cagiva back in the ‘90s in the 500cc Grand Prix factory team – the Italian is juggling with MotoGP and World Superbike at once, filling the shoes left empty by the departure of Luigi "Gigi" Dall'Igna, who moved somewhat unexpectedly to Ducati.

While Aprilia's WSBK prestige is still intact – despite the mixed results scored so far by Marco Melandri – the ART project in MotoGP is not nearly reaping the same fruits as last year, when Aleix Espargaró dominated the CRT category on the "big sister" of the RSV4. Danilo Petrucci, the sole rider on an ART bike, has only scored two points in four races. Moreover, he injured his wrist in Jerez and will skip the Le Mans round to return in Mugello.

"In MotoGP, our results have been far below our expectations," Albesiano said in Imola, ahead of the fourth round of WSBK. "I think we're suffering mostly due to the lack of pre-season tests. The new software (provided by Magneti Marelli) requires some time to be optimized."

Given Aprilia's renowned competitiveness in the electronics field – previously all carried out in house, with the APX ECU and software developed by the factory's own engineers – Albesiano's claim is not difficult to believe. However, one might ask why Aprilia did not run in the "Factory 2" class and take advantage of the same benefits granted to Ducati (more choices of tire compounds and twelve engines for a season).

"The opportunity presented itself too late," Albesiano explained, hinting at the fact the latest regulations were only revealed at the season opener in Qatar. "Porting a proprietary software onto a new hardware requires three or four months. The possibility to use our own codes would have undoubtedly helped us. That said, we must recognize that the software provided by Magneti Marelli works better on other 'Open' bikes."

Albesiano's analysis already turned into a new strategy for the Italian manufacturer. Aprilia will devote more human and technical resources to MotoGP, while simultaneously developing a new factory bike that is scheduled to debut in 2016 but will make its first outing on track at least one year before.

"We committed to race in MotoGP with a factory bike in 2016, and we will stand by our promise," he added. "We will pair Petrucci with one of our electronic engineers from now on, and possibly more of our personnel. Meanwhile, we're still trying to identify an optimal balance between chassis and electronics. The engine layout is pretty much decided, it will be a V4 with a gear-drive cams, and we're already manufacturing prototypes. The new bike should debut on track in the spring of 2015."

Aprilia's most likely option is to race as a Factory team, which it already does in WSBK, though Albesiano said "other options" (i.e., pairing with an existing team to run its MotoGP campaign) are also being considered.

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