Gresini to head Aprilia’s MotoGP return in 2015

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Fausto Gresini will lead Aprilia’s long awaited return to MotoGP competition next season after he confirmed a four-year collaboration with the Italian brand in Misano today.

Gresini will end his long association with Honda after failing to raise the budget to continue leasing a factory spec Honda RC213V and production RCV1000R beyond the current campaign.

Gresini’s funding issue has created a major dilemma for Honda, with Marc VDS Racing and Aspar in a desperate race against time to raise the multi-million pound budget to lease the factory RC213V for British rider Scott Redding.

Redding had been earmarked to take the RC213V in Gresini from Alvaro Bautista after an excellent rookie season on the underpowered RCV1000R.

But once Gresini’s financial crisis emerged last month during the Indianapolis round in America, Redding’s future has been thrown up in the air.

In a short statement released by Gresini on the opening day of his team’s home race at Misano, he said: “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’s factory return will be the Noale manufacturer’s first official foray into MotoGP since 2004, when it raced the brutal RS3 Cube three-cylinder 990cc machine.

Aprilia initially intended to return to MotoGP in 2016, but has advanced its plans by 12 months and intends to race an upgraded version of its current ART bike.

Aprilia boss Romano Albesiano told MCN in Brno last month that the new bike will feature a seamless shift gearbox and pneumatic valve motor.

It is likely that Aprilia’s MotoGP move will end its official association in World Superbikes, though it should remain as a supplier to independent teams.

Aprilia will race in MotoGP next season under the Factory rules that apply to Ducati and Suzuki, which means they will run their own electronics software but have Open class concessions like softer tyres and 24 litres of fuel.

The Gresini announcement made no reference of Aprilia’s rider line-up in 2015, but it is widely expected Marco Melandri has taken that one slot.

He is currently with Aprilia in World Superbikes and is well known to Gresini, having ridden for the team in two different spells in MotoGP.

The second seat could go to Alvaro Bautista, who is also pondering an option with Forward Yamaha.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt