A few years after its return to MotoGP in 2015, Italian Manufacturer Aprilia decided to raise the bar by hiring a new face.
At the end of 2018, Massimo Rivola became the CEO of Aprilia Racing. With a long and successful career in Formula One, he pushed hard for his direction at Noale to become a revolutionary.
His brave technical choices and eyes for the future resulted in a 2020 prototype that made its debut last February in Sepang, cutting radically with the past.
Starting from scratch, Technical Director Romano Albesiano and his staff developed a small and compact machine that bares similarities to Honda HRC machines. As for the engine, they opted for a new 90-degree V4, like rivals Honda, Ducati and KTM, instead of the narrow-angle 75-degree unit used previously.
“The strengths of a 90-degree V4 engine are power and performance.”
“On the other hand, a V4 in line – such as Yamaha or Suzuki’s – has its strong points in handling and turning. The real challenge for the engineers is to perfect handling and turning even with a V4”, stated Massimo Rivola.
But perhaps the most impressive aspect of the 2020 Aprilia RS-GP was the aerodynamics, more specifically the new big wing; a key element integrating the fairing and cockpit.
“Wings have become a crucial element of the modern MotoGP and nowadays, you couldn’t ride without. The main goal is to avoid the wheeling effect of the front tyre and, at the same time, secure more stability in acceleration and under breaking”.
So how much of the Formula One technology is in the Aprilia’s new wings? The new chapter that came with the arrival of Massimo Rivola from Ferrari also saw several engineers joining from Formula One.
“MotoGP remains unique. But it’s useful to look at F1, where things are taken to the extreme.”
Among the new team of engineers was Marco De Luca from McLaren, who became the new Head of Vehicle Department, specialising in aerodynamics at Aprilia.
With his help, an important aerodynamic element was introduced to the Aprilia RS-GP: the flow conveyor that covers the front wheel. Particular attention was given to the mudguard and the cooling air intake of the brakes, all integrated into a single aerodynamic element.
This is the first time that such an extreme fairing has been seen in the MotoGP paddock. Though only the track will give the final verdict, the hope is that – despite the youth of the project – Aprilia can be as competitive as the frontrunners in the 2020 season.