Aprilia Racing: How Aprilia has improved the RS-GP for the 2023 MotoGP season
Massimo Rivola, CEO, Aprilia Racing
We were able to talk to Massimo Rivola, CEO of Aprilia Racing and asked him how he and the team are preparing for the upcoming season which is the longest one in the history of MotoGP. Rivola has been with Aprilia since 2019 and has previously been involved with Formula 1. He is overseeing operations for Aprilia as it enters another year in MotoGP. This year though, Aprilia has a satellite team – CryptoData RNF MotoGP Team. RNF was using Yamaha machines last year but has switched to Aprilia for this season. With more riders on the grid and a machine that was rather impressive last year, it is looking like a strong season for Aprilia.
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Q) How is the RS-GP for 2023 different from last year? What were some of the focus areas for improvement?
The evolution of the Aprilia RS-GP involved every single aspect. The V4 engine has increased in power and maximum RPMs whilst maintaining its outstanding rideability. The chassis architecture relies on a frame that has been revisited based on the riders’ requests, striving for traction and stability. The aerodynamics maintain the concepts introduced in 2022 such as the curved side panel or the characteristic configuration of the front winglet and evolve them, confirming Aprilia Racing’s technological leadership in the area. The electronics benefit from the introduction of a new Magneti Marelli ECU and refined strategy management, the object of constant work which will continue race after race.
Q) Do you see aerodynamics playing a huge part this year in making better bikes rather than the engine?
These are two equally relevant areas. Riders will always demand more power, more traction, and more acceleration, but aerodynamics is becoming increasingly important in MotoGP and has a big impact on the performance of the bike. Although we believe that this is something that needs to be better regulated, at Aprilia we have our own way of developing aerodynamics and we are certainly at the leading edge in this field.
Q) Aprilia has a satellite team this season. How will that partnership affect the development throughout this season and the seasons to come? What kind of information exchange will happen between the two?
In the upcoming championship, the technical situation will be new for us where we will be having a satellite team to support; and from whom we will be able to draw more and more data. Our challenge will now increase with further responsibility of the second team which, while on one hand allows us to have important information available, while on the other hand, it will also be a big testbench for our organisational and analytical ability. Of course, having accurate data available should help us get the right set-up quicker on the race weekend, but I sincerely expect that the new situation will help us in the development of the bike for the following seasons more than in the current one.
Q) Aprilia achieved their first and only win to date last year. How is the team planning to make P1 finishes more common this year?
Aleix Espargaro achieved his & Aprilia’s first victory in Argentina in 2022
Actually, the 2022 results were by far Aprilia’s best ever in MotoGP. At the Argentinean circuit of Termas, Aleix Espargaro took his first pole position and won the race. It was Aprilia’s first historic win in the premier class, then followed by four consecutive podiums and Aleix remained in the fight for the world title till two races to the end of the championship. He finally finished fourth with one win, five podiums and two pole positions. And thanks to three podiums scored by (Maverick) Vinales, Aprilia finished third in the World Constructors’ Championship. Our growth is undeniable, as is how rapidly we improved. It is a path that did not come about by chance. We are a better company from every point of view, so I expect this trend to continue.
In 2023 we face a dual challenge: confirming our potential in the championship battle and continuing to grow.
Q) What are some of the tracks on this year’s calendar that you think will suit your bike best?
In recent years we have had some circuits where the RS-GP has shown great potential, specifically Phillip Island, Silverstone, Aragon, and Barcelona but in 2022 our bike has had great performance at almost every track. The goal is to achieve consistency in performance on all circuits in 2023.
Maverick Vinales riding the Aprilia RS-GP
So, it is clear that bossman Massimo Rivola is looking optimistic about the new MotoGP season. The team seems to have put in a lot of work to improve the bike. This is Maverick’s second year with the team and he should be even more comfortable with the bike and the team this time around, giving the team a stronger front to fight. With an improved machine, motivated riders and more machines on the grid, 2023 could turn out to be even better for the team than 2022. What remains to be seen is if everything clicks when the rubber meets the road.